Don’t let your complicated passwords go in one ear and out the other.
When it comes to cybersecurity, there are few nuggets of wisdom we hold quite as dear as “use complicated passwords.” Our first line of defense against hackers, passwords that are over 10 characters, mix character types (numbers, letters, symbols, etc.), don’t use common phrases, and aren’t repeated across multiple channels offer the best protection for your data.
The problem is passwords that fit this criterion are also really hard to remember; Like – exceptionally so. It’s a classic catch-22: great passwords are purposefully difficult to guess, but that also makes them difficult to use. What’s a security-conscious user to do?
Before you start making study guides, the EMPIST team has a few insider tips that might help you keep track of your credentials:
Create a Password Secret Formula
Passwords are at their most secure when they’re single-use – meaning each password you create should ideally only be used for one account.
However, 2020 research from NordPass suggests that the average person has about 100 passwords to remember at any given time. That’s a huge number! So, while we’d love to be able to wag our fingers and say, “just commit them all to memory,” memorization is simply no longer a realistic approach to password management.
Instead, try creating your own ~complicated password secret formula~ for creating new logins.
For example, you can select a song you know. Then, pick a specific lyric or line from the song. Using the first letter of each of the words that make up that line, you can create the base of a few complicated passwords. Intersperse with capitalization, tack on a few random numbers and special characters, and voila – you’ve got a complex password.
In practice, this process can look like this:
Song: “Shake It Off” – by Taylor Swift
Lyric: “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play”
Password Base: ctpgppppp
Finishing Touches: ctPgPPppP$57!6
For the next password, select a different line of the same song. This methodology can be applied to books, poems, passages, or letters – anything you can use as a cryptic key that might help jog your memory will do.
And while, yes, admittedly this password process is also difficult to remember, having a unique system key in place is at least somewhat easier to recall than a completely randomized option.
Use an Online Password Management Tool
Alternatively, if creating your own passwords is too much to handle you can also opt for a password management tool. Online options like LastPass, Dashlane, NordPass, and 1Password allow you to set one unique master password. Once you’ve logged in with this credential, your software will remember the rest of your passwords for you. It’s a “one-password-to-rule-them-all” situation.
With password management software, you can ensure that your master password is especially complex. After all, remembering one login is much easier than one hundred.
However, it is important to note that while some password managers offer a free option, to get the full benefits of the software usually requires a paid subscription.
Write Your Passwords Down, If You Have To
It may seem counterintuitive – and we wouldn’t recommend it per se – but if you really can’t remember your passwords, a pen and paper might just be the solution you need!
If you must keep records of your passwords, writing them down on a scrap of paper and storing them somewhere secure in your home is probably the safest way to do so. No other identifying information should be written alongside them in case it falls into the wrong hands.
Of course, if someone were to break into your house and nab your journal, all your accounts would be potentially exposed. However, in this day and age, the chances of a data breach are significantly higher than those of breaking and entering, so this may just have to be a risk that you’re willing to take.
Password Best Practices
Sadly, there’s no one simple solution to remembering complex passwords. But there are known best practices to the craft of password management.
Some methodologies to keep in mind include:
- Use Long Passwords
- Use Diverse Characters
- Stay Away from Common Phrases & Words (your dog’s name, your birthday, etc.)
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication, When Available
- Use Unique Passwords for Each Account
- Tell Your Password to No One
- Regularly Check Up on the Health & Safety of Your Credentials
- Ensure Your Personal Accounts (Social Media, etc.) Are Also Secure
Overwhelmed at the thought of complex password management? We don’t blame you. EMPIST can help manage your business’s cybersecurity for you. Contact us online to learn more, today!