In addition to being a disaster readiness consultant and author, I’m also a licensed private investigator. I’ve been working in the security and investigation fields for over twenty years now. I’ve had to learn how to create foolproof passwords.
My specialty is with computer-based investigations, such as e-mail tracing and deep background checks. Many of us spend hours each day working with computers. With that comes the requisite passwords we need to create on a regular basis.
The problem is, we sometimes have a hard time remembering all those passwords. Some of us resort to writing them down, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a password, right? In an effort to create easy-to-remember passwords, we end up with stuff that’s easy for others to figure out.
Think back to the most common passwords you’ve used. I’m betting at least some of them used your children’s name(s) or your pet’s name. For the guys, one of the most common passwords is the make or model of your vehicle.
Now, while you may be at low risk of having someone try to break into your online account at the local library, any time you’re dealing with financial matters, such as making purchases or doing online banking, you want the strongest password you can create. But, the stronger the password, the harder it can be to remember.
Here’s a trick I learned years ago that you can use to create an all but unbreakable password that is also extremely easy to remember.
Choose a nursery rhyme. For example, we’ll go with Humpty Dumpty. Go through the first line of the nursery rhyme and write down the first letter from each word.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall = HDsoaw
Now, either before or after those letters, write down the last four digits of the home phone number you had when you were a child. If that won’t work for you for some reason, how about the combination to your locker at the gym?
1234HDsoaw or HDsoaw1234
This can also work by using a book you always have nearby instead of a nursery rhyme. Just use the first sentence of the book instead of the first line of the rhyme. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” becomes Iwtbotiwtwot.
Or maybe the first line from your favorite song? “It’s all the same, only the names will change,” becomes Iatsotnwc.
Some sites and software programs require you to change your password on a regular basis. Just go to the next line of the rhyme each time you need to change the password.
Here’s the best part. If you are extremely forgetful, rather than writing down the actual password, you can just write down the name of the nursery rhyme. Think about it. Who is going to guess your online bank account password just by seeing “Humpty Dumpty” written down?