The Phoenix

How do we win at the password game?

- By Terry Alburger

In this day and age, you have to be a genius to remember all your passwords and all the user ID’s associated with your name. It is unbelievab­le!

They (whoever they may be) tell you that you should not write them down lest some unsavory character finds your list and goes to town with your informatio­n. But the sheer volume of informatio­n we need to process and retain is daunting. Hmmm, how then do we do it?

Well, let’s start at the beginning. When asked for a password for a new organizati­on or website, most of us have those goto passwords. They are perhaps dates that are important to you or initials of those close to you.

I fell into this group for the longest time, until recently when my 10-yearold granddaugh­ter was visiting.

She asked if she could use my phone — I said “Sure, let me unlock it for you.”

Her reply: “I know your password.”

I replied with an incredulou­s “What? How?”

Her simple reply changed my whole perspectiv­e on passwords.

She said: “Mom-mom, you use the same password for everything. I just watch you put it in. I use it for my password too now.”

Wow. If a 10-year-old can accurately decipher my passwords, then imagine how easy it would be for an insidious malcontent to do the same!

It was time for me to up my game. I began to look at my list of past passwords and saw a definite pattern. Passwords speak volumes of their owners, at least mine did. With each new addition or acquisitio­n, be it grandchild, puppy or car, they are all well documented.

As the years went by, I interjecte­d clever additions to each one, perhaps a symbol or a series of nonsequent­ial numbers. Some are compilatio­ns of different names or even of current events of interest in my life.

Suffice it to say, it has become a game to me. OK, Bad Guys, just try and crack the code on this password! And no, I will not be using the same password more than once or twice, a lesson I learned from a 10-year-old.

The secret to a good password, I think, is that a) it means something to you; b) it means nothing to anyone else; and c) in a pinch, you can remember it if need be, with a little bit of detective work.

And while there must be some semblance of logic in it to aid you in rememberin­g, it must also be illogical to anyone else. There are some passwords that I absolutely love and hate to give up once they expire, and some that were not so memorable.

And there are other languages to throw in every now and again. Remember your high school Spanish or French, it might come in handy.

Still, the number of accounts and passwords we need to remember is daunting. While keeping in mind the dire warnings of writing it all down, I must admit, I worked hard to find a way to comply with both safety and the taxing of my brain.

I have created a cryptic solution. I maintain a file on a computer that contains the account listings. However, unless your brain is hard-wired to mine, it would be useless to you. All listings are abbreviate­d in a way that makes sense to only me.

User ID’s and passwords are in my own personal code. Instead of listing things outright, make a game of it. Think of clues that only you could decipher. I have to admit, sometimes when I refer to my list, I have to think a bit in order to translate the data. But hey, it makes it all the more fun.

And if I’m having so much trouble, there is no way a would-be hacker is going to decipher the logic (or illogic, as the case may be) in my choices.

And yet, the passwords you choose will tell a story. If you go back and look, you can see those major events or interests in your life going back years, or bucket list items you’d love to check off. It’s kind of fun to see where you were and where you are now.

Your passwords, no matter how cryptic, are a reflection of your life, an electronic time machine to great times in your past. Get creative and stay one step ahead of virtual bad guys.

 ?? PIXABAY ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States