Every day we have more and more and more online registrations which means more and more and more passwords to try and memorize… We know this is normally an impossible task, but I may have a potential solution. Instead of thinking of a pass-“word”, I recommend changing it to a pass-“pattern” (or algorithm, but I didn’t want to scare anyone off this early by using big complicated buzz words… 😆 ).
Table of contents
- The Password Problem
- Pass-patterns to the rescue!
- Building a Unique, Secure, and Memorable Password is Doable!
The Password Problem
Even in 2021 it’s surprising to me how many people, when I’m giving them support on some techincal issue will give me a password… and 9 times out of 10 it’s a totally guessable password. A few favorites everyone seems to use:
- Marriage date
- First child birthday
- The word “password” (not joking)
- Some password they’ve used since they were 12… and they’re now 38.
People just don’t realize how important it is to have a secure unique password. Keyword being unique. So many people have the SAME password on every website because that’s the only way they can remember their logins. Let me give you a secret, people who use the same password over and over again are a hacker’s DREAM!
All it takes is one breach on one website and you’re in big trouble. Let me give you an example:
Let me guess, you bought something from that Instagram ad recently, right? Did they take your information and set up a user account on their random website using that same password you use on every website?
Now fast-forward 3 years. That company is mostly out of business because that’s how most of those shops go… their site is left online but hasn’t been updated in 3 years, so their security is super weak. Their site gets hacked… OH NO! WHATEVER WILL YOU DO?? You don’t care because you haven’t used that site in 3 years and will never use it again. Oh well, right? WRONG.
The hackers take that information they stole and then they run the username/email and password combos against all the major banks, online stores (amazon, walmart, etc.), and social media sites. What are the chances that the username/password combo is going to work on at least one of those??
Next thing you know, you’re waking up to overdraft charges from your bank because your checking and savings account are all the sudden at zero balances… Don’t be that guy.
Pass-patterns to the rescue!
Now a requirement for my passwords is that I want to be able to not rely fully on a password manager like LastPass (which I do love) to save all my passwords in case I can’t access LastPass for any reason. So, I came up with a way to memorize passwords but still have them be unique and secure. Here’s teh breakdown.
Use Multiple Words in your Pass-pattern
To start, you should pick a few words that you will use in your pass pattern. Those words should be totally random, and possibly in another language if possible. But they should be words you can easily memorize. For this example, we’ll use the “Hello World”.
For a little additional security, let’s switch those words to Spanish, so they become “Hola Mundo”.
You can see how the security would increase by adding more words, or making the words more unrelated, like “Chicken World Bug”… definitely not getting guessed anytime soon.
Use Capitalization, Numbers for Letters, and Punctuation with your Words
Now that you have your two or more words figured out, let’s make them a little harder to understand by adding some random capitals, sum digits for numbers and add random punctuation. So “Hola Mundo” might become “h0la! munD0”. Still memorable, but now a little more complicated… Do you see how you can manipulate this yet?
Use the Site or App You’re Using to Manipulate the Password
Now comes the magic. This is where your password steps from pretty good to really good. For this example let’s use two easy sites, google.com and the Instagram app. Starting with google.com.
This is the part you memorize, and here are a few different ideas:
- Take the first two letters from the domain or app
- Take the first and last letter from the domain or app
- Take the 2nd and 3rd letter
You can see where this is going. Take those letters from the domain or app and use them to manipulate your password. Maybe you put them in the front of the two words, in the middle of the words, or the end of the words. So for google.com, your password might become any one of these combinations:
And for Instagram, for the example’s sake, your password would become:
See how we’re breaking the uniqueness but still keeping it memorable? Just think of the other ways you could use a pattern as well. Just a couple additional examples:
- Depending on if the domain or app starts with a vowel or consonant, change which letters you get
- Depending on if the domain or app has an even or odd number of letters in it, change which letters you get
- Whether the first letter of the domain or app is in your first name, you use your first name or last name.
Building a Unique, Secure, and Memorable Password is Doable!
You can definitely start today by building your own pass-pattern using the tips mentioned above. This will greatly improve your ability to protect yourself from potential hackers. After you have the pattern memorized it gets VERY easy to remember your password to any website or app.
Which passwords do you upgrade first?
The next big issue is updating the 1,000+ passwords that already exist on the internet! I would definitely start with your online bank account, social media accounts, and favorite e-commerce sites first. Then over time continually improve all the other passwords you already have stored.