The Art of the Password

Please let me blog today about an annoying subject that is very necessary to talk about: passwords.

Passwords are, as we all know, highly important, yet irritating. It seems that every day we must create an account with some website or other, and for each account we must make up a password.

A password should not be easy to guess. For example, you should not use your mother’s maiden name, your father’s first name, your middle name, your spouse’s name, or your pet’s name, just to name a few no-no’s. Another rule about passwords is that you should not use something blatantly obvious. For example, don’t make your password “123456,” “abcdef,” or the word “password.” (The last one is probably the number one worst choice.)

It’s best to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters in your password, along with a few numbers and some “special characters.” Special characters are usually symbols, such as !, *, #, or $. The more jumbled around these letters, numbers, and symbols are, the better, because then your password is difficult for a hacker to guess.

I personally have a kind of system for choosing a password. I use songs, since I love music.

I often use song titles (or parts of them) and their respective artists (or parts of their name), with random (or special to me) numbers and symbols thrown into them. The songs are supplied to me by my iTunes on my phone.

How does this work?

Let’s say I create a new account somewhere and I need a password. I immediately grab my phone and open the music app. Then I tap the play button to start a random song playing. That song will be the basis for my password.

For example, let’s say my phone begins playing “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows. (In real life, I do not have this song on my phone, so don’t get any ideas, please.)

I start by writing the song title on paper: mrjones

Now, let’s throw in the artist’s name in part: CCmrjones (Note that I am now using uppercase and lowercase letters.)

We need some numbers. What was the month when I heard this song for the first time? January 1994. So let’s put that in somehow: CC194mrjones (Note how I threw it into the middle rather than sticking it at the end or beginning.)

Finally, we need a symbol. I am partial to the asterisk: CC194mrjones*

This could have been done a number of other ways as well.

Now, two very important rules:

  1. Be sure to write your passwords down in a little notebook and treat that notebook like gold.
  2. Change your passwords at least once a year. I typically change mine on January 1 or 2 of each year. New year, new passwords.

As I said before, the song “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows is not on my phone, so I will never, never use the password above that I just used as an example. Please don’t use it to try to hack me.

Happy password-making!

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