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Don’t use Snuffles as your password

26 November, 2012

These days we have to have a password for everything we do online, but internet security people always tell us to use unique passwords. Internet security is important, but while the idea of unique passwords for every site makes sense, who can remember dozens of different ones? The most secure passwords aren’t passwords at all but random passcodes. But who can learn passcodes like “ilmbs12!rd”? Well I can, and I’ll tell you how.

 

The secret is to have one key word as the base and then add unique suffixes. For example if your childhood rabbit you loved was called Mr Snuffles, it could be tempting to use “snuffles” as the password for everything. You don’t need me to tell you that’s a bad idea, but if you add a suffix for each site, it becomes a bit more secure. So your facebook password could be “snufflesfb”, twitter “snufflestw” and wordpress “snuffleswp” and so on. All you need to remember now are two letters for each site, and you don’t even need to make it as obvious as “wp” for wordpress. Use the third and fifth letters, say, and your password becomes “snufflesrp” for your blog. Even those who know your pet history won’t be able to guess that too easily.

We still need to make this more secure though. “Snuffles” is a real word, and even though the addition of a suffix makes cracking your password harder, it is still quite possible. The most secure passwords are made up of random letters and numbers, ideally with added punctuation. But how can you remember a password like “ilmbs12!ce” for facebook among all those other unique random codes? Impossible you would think, but not when you realise that “ilmbs12!ce” is a shortened mnemonic for “I loved my bunny Snuffles, I got him when I was 12” with the third and fourth letters of facebook as a suffix, and a ! thrown in. It’s easy now isn’t it? Your wordpress sign in becomes “ilmbs12!rd”  no person or computer will ever stumble upon, but which you can easily remember. Even though when I gave it as an example earlier you thought it would be impossible! And if, like me, you often used to forget your Amazon password, you can even keep a post-it-note on your screen with a list of rd,ce,az which will be meaningless and helpless to anyone else, but tells you everything you need to know. As long as you keep your mnemonic secret, your internet security is greatly improved.

Oh, one final request – always log out to avoid others using/stealing your identity. I’m sure you log out of your internet banking if you log on at work but what about at home? No doubt you trust your spouse/children/cat not to commit identity fraud, but what if someone breaks into your house and steals your laptop or your hard drive? If your computer keeps you logged into your bank, then it’s a five minute job to empty your savings, and a ten minute job to take out a loan in your name and steal that too. So please log out – and now you have easy and secure passcodes, you can always be confident you can log back in!

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From → Blogging

6 Comments
  1. I don’t actually trust my cats not to rob me blind when I’m not home. So this is good advice.

  2. at the minute my laptop is totally highly secure I am the only one who knows the exact position to hold the screen at to make it work while holding the laptop at a certain angle to stop it overheating where the fan bust but I shall certainly take your advice into consideration after christmas when I can afford to replace it 😀

  3. Delilah permalink

    I had a computer programmer from my college teach me this. It really does help!

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