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4 Password Do’s and Don’ts
August 9th, 2010 by WillDuke


How do you remember your passwords?  Or have you given up and use the same password for everything?

Passwords are a pain.  And our need for passwords is growing.  Consequently, the pain is growing too.  There is a lot to say on the topic, but here are four quick tips about creating unique passwords and remembering them.

1.  Don’t do any of the following:

  • use the word “password” as your password
  • use any word in the dictionary as your password.
  • use any word in the  dictionary as part of your password
  • use your kids names
  • use your social security number, or any portion thereof
  • use anything your friends can guess
  • give your password to other people

2.  For the most important passwords, consider writing it down.

I know everyone says don’t write your password down.  And I know that many people do.  Trust me, I find the post-it notes.  Here’s my logic.  If you write down the password, you’re willing to complicate it because you don’t have to remember it.  So write it down, but treat that written password just like you would your credit card.

  • Put it someplace safe – like your wallet or purse.
  • Don’t leave it anywhere.  Especially not around a computer!

Put your most important – and unique – passwords on a piece of paper slightly smaller than a credit card.  Then use  a laminating machine to make yourself a durable card with your passwords on it.

You know how to keep your purse/wallet safe.  How many times has your purse or wallet been compromised in the last 90 days?  If it is, you know you need to change your password immediately.

3.  Use Substitutions

Substitute one character for another.  Turn an A into an @.  Turn an S into a 5.  Even better, don’t make them look the same.  Replace all vowells with a Q, or  a ).  Whatever your substitution is, do it every time you need a password.  (Some friends of mine wrote a nifty blog entry on this over at TrustCC.)  If you’re replacing all vowells with a ), and you need a password for your yahoo account, spell yahoo with your replacements – y)h)).

4.  Longer is Better

Passwords really should be 8 characters or more.  Since there are still a few sites that will stop you at 8, decide your passwords will all be 8 characters long.  Don’t just double up your password like this – y)h))y)h.  Instead, try a default phrase that you append all the time.  Maybe it’s a series of numbers you can remember – 8675309.  So now your yahoo password could be y)h))867.

That’s a pretty good password, and easy to remember!

Do you have any password creation tips you would like to share?  Put them in the comments below.


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