Retrieving a password is a hassle. Hereʼs how to improve your chances of not having to use that “forgot your password?” button.

 

When I think of all the passwords Iʼve created over the years, I think Iʼve been more creative than Shakespeare. However, all this creativity can make remembering these passwords less than easy.

 

Making it even more of a challenge, security settings nowadays require that we pepper our passwords with upper-case letters, numbers and other characters, and with a minimum length. Anything less will be judged too weak.

 

So I shouldnʼt have been all that surprised when I was recently setting a password for a new online account and my mind went totally blank. Now I know what writerʼs block must feel like.

I tried a program promising to randomly generate unique, ultra-secure passwords, but they ended up looking something like this: 74ng;2-gn@n!p. In other words, youʼd need a photographic memory to remember them.

 

My only other hope was writing them down. But I knew how easily that list could fall into the wrong hands, defeating the whole purpose of password security.

 

I understand why so many people use lazy variations of the same password for everything: From bank accounts to social media accounts. But think about how vulnerable that makes you:

Itʼs bad enough if one miscreant gets their hands on your bank account password, but far worse if they can then easily unlock all your other accounts.

 

Never use names that people might easily associate with you, like your hometown; you might as well be giving away the keys to your home. Your online accounts are your property, and should be safeguarded as such.

 

With my creative juices running dry, I looked to my surroundings for inspiration. My gaze alighted on a magazine sitting on my desk. A picture of an actor, the word “Broadway.” Eureka!

Here was something very visual, highly memorable. And crucially, it was based in a very personal moment known only to myself, something would-be hackers would never think of. I got around the number, character and length requirement by turning it into 8roadw&y. That was the fun part.

 

Another useful tool a friend recently told me about is installing a password manager on your computer--it will do all the work of remembering all of your passwords for you, even the really bizarre ones that are just nonsensical letters and numbers. PC magazine has rated password managers in “The Best Password Managers of 2017”, which you can read here.

 

Remember, people donʼt ask you for a strong password just to drive you crazy when months later you fail to remember them. The goal is to protect you and your data. Look at passwords as friends who want to protect you, and who—if you like getting creative, as I do—you can even have a little fun with.

 

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