It seems every day we hear about someone’s online account being hacked into. Until a better solution is found, your best protection is strong and unique passwords.
Creating secure and unique passwords for the gazillion sites we visit and remembering them all is not impossible if you have the right password creating scheme. I love this scheme by famous geek Gina Trapani. Building upon her suggestion, I like the formula “site-base-number” to create a password.
First, start your password with a base word that you will use for all of your passwords. But the trick is not to make it a real in-the-dictionary word. Take a word and replace a letter or two with numbers or symbols (A=@, E=3, O=0, b=6, S=$, etc.) If you love cats, then your base word could be iLc@ts (I love cats). Or take a phrase and use the first letter of each word (“May the force be with you”=MTFBWU, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”=ANGTFT, etc.) That’s your base word. Since my favorite show right now is Once Upon A Time, I’ll use the first letter of each word but change the O to 0. So my base word is 0UAT.
Now, let’s make the passwords unique for each site.
Using your base word, add two or three letters of the site’s name to the front of your base word. So my password for Twitter could start out as Tw0UAT.
Then I recommend adding a symbol and a couple of numbers. The symbols could be anything. But I suggest the numbers be anything that’s not tied to your public information (i.e. your birth year, your zip code, house or apt number, etc.) They could the year you signed up for the site, your favorite jersey number, part of your best friend’s zip code, etc. I’m quite partial to baseball great Gary Carter’s jersey number 8 so I’ll add 88 to my Twitter password. Now I’ve got Tw0UAT88. And I’ll remember it because it’s site-base-Gary Carter. For my online Walmart account, I could use Wal0UAT88 and Amazon could be Amz0UAT88.
Some sites require a special character in your password. If your base doesn’t have a symbol in it, you can add it before or after the base like this Tw?0UAT88 or Tw0UAT?88. Or if you want to make it really tricky, flip the formula around – 88?0UATTw (number-base-site).
Got a strong password? Great. Now check its strength using this online Password Meter.