Passwords for Mortals

“Your passwords are not strong enough!”

How many headlines have you come across in the past year like this one?  Passwords are the bane of our existence because we have so many to remember.  Let’s face it, creating an incredibly complex password with numbers, symbols, and a random assortment of letters is not your first instinct.  We aren’t capable of remembering a 16-character strong password, let alone multiple passwords that fit these requirements.

Believe it or not, there are ways to meet the standard of strong passwords by following some simple steps which we’ve outlined below.  Take a look and see how your know-how measures up:

Be Creative

One way to make the retention of strong passwords possible is to get creative! Since your password is for you and you alone think of the punchline to your favorite joke, your favorite vacation spot, or favorite verse from the bible.  These answers are personal and easy to recall.  Let’s say your favorite vacation spot is Lake Tahoe. Next you will take the phrase “laketahoe” and swap out letters for numbers and symbols.

Here are a few examples:

  • A = @
  • E = 3
  • O = 0 (zero)
  • I = 1

So “Lake Tahoe” ends up as: l@k3tah03.

Next incorporate capital letters and some additional symbols: L@k3T@h03!#

Using this method to create a strong password will feel strange at first, but just like any new password it takes a few days to get familiar with it.  Strong passwords are critical to the security of the systems you access making it incredibly complicated/impossible for someone to guess and gain access.

Update Frequently

One of the most important ways you can combat a password being compromised is to mix it up. Obviously you would hope that your password is never compromised but if it is, and you have a habit of changing your passwords quarterly, the potential for harm is greatly reduced.

Think back to the questions you used to get creative with your password, does that answer change? A good example of this would be if you made your password a variation of the book you are currently reading. When you finish that book and start a new one update your password to be something related to your new book. Finding a natural way to cycle passwords will make your overall security stronger as a result.

Manage Them Well

As the world becomes more and more connected passwords are everywhere and needed for just about anything we do at this point.  Sure, some people have a knack for remembering things but that talent doesn’t last forever and we don’t all have it. Collecting your passwords in one easily accessible location is a brilliant way to simplify our electronic lives – it still needs to be secure though which means keeping them in a Word doc does not qualify.

There are a handful of password management solutions available, such as 1Password, to do the heavy lifting for you.  1Password is a comprehensive password manager that provides a place to store various passwords, software licenses, and other sensitive information in a virtual vault that is locked with a PBKDF2-guarded master password (your master password is the one password you need to remember).

To see how a 1Password works to manage your passwords, check out their quick video below:


Do you have other tips or tricks for setting or changing passwords? If you could change one thing about passwords what would it be? Let us know in the comments below!