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Creating multiple complex passwords and how to remember them with ease

by Tim Rimington | February 19, 2012

Passwords. We all use them to access our online banking, our email accounts, our utility account management, our stock investments, home and car loan accounts – and for many people, the list goes on and on.

Most people use the same password at all times because their chosen password is easy to remember. Few even change their password.

Most media reports that discuss hacked user accounts, often describe how hackers were able to gain access to people's accounts by using passwords as simple as, password1234 or, worse still, password1 (a common password, if you can believe it).

So here are some tips for creating complex passwords that are easy to remember yet difficult for someone to easily guess.

Capitalise the first (and/or last) letters of the service you're logging in to, and add one or more characters between the first body of letters and an easy-to-remember 4 digit number. To create an easy to remember formula of special characters, choose one or more characters that you will always remember (for example, you may like to use the characters that appear on a keyboard above your favourite number/s). Something along these lines:

[ServicenamE] [your characters] [your numbers] resulting in, e.g. BigponD*#3865

Because the [servicename] will change for every service you log in to, each password is still effectively unique, e.g. BusinesS*#3865

Other variations could include:

[ServiceNameBackwards] [your numbers] [your characters] and so on, e.g. DnopgiB3865*#

Your easy to remember formula is thrown into chaos if a password can only be, say, 8 chracters in length. What to do? I still use the same formula but only the first two characters from each string - it's still easy to remember because, in my case, that only happens with one password.

When choosing numbers still try to avoid obvious strings such as your birthdate. Always adopt no fewer than 4 numbers, and use special characters that you'll never forget.

By creating your own unique string formula, you're unlikely to ever forget a password again.

How often should you change your passwords? Some suggest monthly, others suggest once a year as a minimum. If you change your password yearly (and you should), make your birthday the day you mix up your string formulas. So if you have [servicename] [characters] [numbers], try switching that around to something like [servicename] [numbers] [characters].

Ultimately, what you settle on will be something you can remember in a heart beat – for each and every log in instance. I've been using variations of this simple formula for years and I've not once forgotten any of my complex passwords.

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