Making a password for web based accounts is easy – all you need is a random mix of characters, symbols and digits. The more critical thing is memorizing the password. In this post, I shall offer some invaluable tips on how you can remember an online account password.
By the way, the security questions and answers of your web-based account are as important as the password. Usually, these two pieces of information are interdependent. Thus, you would need the password to change the answers to the security question and vice-versa. So these tips on how to remember a password are also applicable to security questions and their secret answers (more on this later).
Let me start with a nice story (probably true) from Joseph T. Hallinan’s Errornomics.
Tom Vander Molen was a young man sadly confined to a wheelchair since high school. He started collecting gold coins after receiving one as a child from his grandfather. When the value of his collection reached about $4000, Tom decided to keep the coins in a safe place in his house.
A secret place was decided after much deliberation. He put the gold coins in one of the used paint cans in a storage room. This would be an ideal place to keep his treasure safe and hidden, he thought. After about nine years when the need arose to ‘dig’ out the stash, Tom found himself completely lost. He just couldn’t remember where he had hidden the coins. He looked everywhere but to no avail.
After some days, when he visited the storage room, Tom immediately recalled the “secret location”. But by that time it was too late. A few months back, a friend had helped Tom clean the house and had got rid of the paint cans (all of them). The treasure was now probably lying in a garbage dump!
Not only was the hiding place bad (as we shall soon see why) but Tom was also the perpetrator in getting rid of his treasure.
So how can we not repeat Tom’s mistake? How can one remember a password or a secret hiding place? Here are some tips:
If a hiding spot or password lacks meaning, we will soon forget it.
Though simpler passwords are easier to remember, never employ them for important accounts. Check the most common passwords and ensure that yours isn’t one of them.
On a related note, if you are in the habit of changing the password often, make sure you don’t start using simpler login details.
As mentioned above, the security questions (there can be more than one) and their secret answers are as important as the password. Correct answers to these security questions are required when retrieving or resetting the password information.
So how can you choose good security questions? This is the topic of another article.
In 1986, a 75 cent accounting error at University of California, Berkeley, lead network manager Clifford Stoll to discover hackers at work. Five German hackers were arrested after a year. [more...]