What the Tech? Creating stronger passwords

(ABC 6 News) – Tuesday is International Safer Internet Day. A time to remind all users of the internet and social media that a few steps can protect your accounts and your identity.

I’d argue there are few things more difficult in the 21st century than coming up with and remembering good passwords for all of the accounts we have.

The FBI recommends 14 characters, a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols, no common words, and using a different password for every account.

But come on, that’s hard enough for just one account and you probably have dozens including social media, bank and credit card accounts, and those apps you may download and forget about.

Impossible? No. Here’s how to do it without going crazy:

  • Think of two movies or songs. In this example, I’ll go with “You Can’t Always Get What you Want” and “Midnight Train to Georgia”.
  • Take the first letter of each word in the titles. That leaves you with YCAGWYWMTTG
  • Now, put one of those song titles in all lowercase. “ycagwywMTTG”
  • We need to add a number or numbers so I’ll add “4” in between the titles “ycagwyw4MTTG”
  • Still need a special character, so exchange the “a” for “@“.
  • That leaves us with “yc@gwyw4MTTG”
  • Add another special character at the beginning which makes passwords stronger. “#yc@gwyw4MTTG”

That’s a very strong password but you shouldn’t use it for everything. Here’s a little trick: add something to the password that you can remember for each account. For example, add the first two letters of the account “fa” for Facebook, “go” for Google, etc.

Put those letters anywhere in the base password that you can remember.

Once you commit the primary password to mind just add whatever letters you use to label the account.

Voila! You now have strong passwords for every account that you can remember. When you have to change the password for some reason, simply change the number or symbol you placed at the beginning or change the song or movie titles.

It’s an easy way to not only meet the criteria suggested by the FBI but remember multiple passwords for your multiple accounts.