Choosing Passwords

By Janet Dodrill

Coming up with a formula for choosing passwords and remembering them can be a good idea. I once met someone who, when ask to register on a web site with a username and password, would use their initials, followed by the name of the site they were visiting. That way they could memorize all their passwords. The same system could apply when choosing a username.

I dislike when I am given an auto-generated password where letters and numbers are combined, and I cannot tell if an “0” is the number zero or the letter “O”. Or if an “l” is an uppercase “i” or a lowercase “L”.

In the wikiHow article “How to Choose a Secure Password“, it discusses ways to choose a strong password that you can remember, by doing things like mixing letters, numbers and symbols and by choosing long combinations of characters. Perhaps develop a sentence that you can remember and abbreviating it by first letters and word substitutes (i.e. “2” for “to”). It claims that it is important to have at least 6 characters in a password, and to change passwords every 60 to 90 days.

It is never a good idea to leave your password(s) on a Post-It® note stuck to the front of your computer monitor, for the whole world to see! Believe it or not, people do this.

In the past I have kept password info in a text file that has a not-so-obvious name (i.e. not naming the file ‘passwords’), so I could just copy and paste the login information for sites I would frequent, primarily at work, but not anymore. Now, I write all my passwords in a notebook, and do not keep them on my computer system. This may seem ‘old school’ to some, but it works for me. I am able to memorize the ones I use regularly.

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