** Updated for Heartbleed virus. You should change your password immediately if you use either Facebook, Gmail, Tumblr, Yahoo mail, GoDaddy, Intuit, Dropbox, LastPass, OkCupid or Soundcloud. **

Like most people, you were born a human. And like all humans, you can’t remember your @#$%! web site passwords.

Same old process:

  • Realize can’t remember password.
  • Reset password.
  • Make new password.
  • Go to login screen.
  • Realize you’ve already forgotten new password.
  • Reset password…

When working with high school students last spring, this issue seemed to come up once per class. They told me they either use a different password for each site (and would forget) or used the same one for every site (not secure). Lots of lost time here.

But forgetting a secure password hasn’t happened to me once in the past 12 months since I came across the best – BEST – plan for creating memorable and also safe passwords.

It’s base + modifier.

What does that even mean? In short, the password base is the core that you use on every site. The modifier will be a word or phrase that changes for each site.

You tuned out there, I know; it’s been two whole minutes since you played Candy Crush and your eyes are seeking colour bombs right now. So, in shorter: Password base = same for every site; modifier = words that change for each site.

Here’s a super simple example.

Super Simple Example

The base = peter, so check out each modifier:

Base + service (modifier) = password

Base

+

Service (Modifier)

=

Password
peter

+

Gmail

=

petergmail
peter

+

Twitter

=

petertwitter
peter

+

Instagram

=

peterinstagram
peter

+

Facebook

=

peterfacebook
peter

+

Candy Crush

=

petercandycrush

twitter

How could you ever forget those passwords using a base and modifier?

However, as easy as this looks for you (yes!), it’s also too easy for someone with software dedicated to hacking (not yes!).

According to How Secure Is My Password?, a desktop PC could crack “petergmail” in just nine hours. (But “petercandycrush” would take 13,000 years, which is awesome since my Candy Crush score is far more exciting than my email account.)

To make the base + modifier idea almost unhackable yet still simple to remember, your password base needs three things:

  • a number(s)
  • a capital(s)
  • special characters (i.e., the ones that look like swearing: @#$%!)

Sound like too much work now? It’s not; you’re just being really lazy.

Just build your base using things you can remember. Your life goal is cash dollars (“$”)? You love LeBron (jersey is “23”)? You love Drake (“Yolo”)?

Really? You love Drake?? That’s… precious. Actually, I can get behind YOLO for Drake: You Only Listen Once.

Okay, check out the super effective example below.

Super Effective Example

If base = $23Yolo, then:

Base

+

Service (Modifier)

=

Password
$23Yolo

+

Gmail

=

$23Yologmail
$23Yolo

+

Twitter

=

$23Yolotwitter
$23Yolo

+

Instagram

=

$23Yoloinstagram
$23Yolo

+

Facebook

=

$23Yolofacebook
$23Yolo

+

Candy Crush

=

$23Yolocandycrush

gmail (password article)

My Candy Crush account is now safe for 931 trillion years. But if you like a bit of extra security for your high score on level 252, here’s one more example, which could be the best.

One More Example, Which Could Be the Best

With $23Yolo as the strong base for each and every site, change the modifiers from the site name to something simple and memorable.

Base

+

Modifier

=

Password
$23Yolo

+

mail

=

$23Yolomail
$23Yolo

+

tweet

=

$23Yolotweet
$23Yolo

+

pics

=

$23Yolopics
$23Yolo

+

friends

=

$23Yolofriends
$23Yolo

+

my parents hoped for better

=

$23Yolomyparentshopedforbetter

You’ll notice in the below example I don’t make my modifier so obvious (for security) but I did give it a name I always associate with the site (for memory).

Now, you should (a) be able to remember your dozens of passwords, and (2) be unhackable.

Alright, good read. Don’t forget to grab some coconut wheels at the Yeti Shop on your way out.

 

Written by Peter Cullen

Peter Cullen loves to teach children. He specializes in literacy (elementary level) and has a lot of fun creating games and activities for class lessons. He also writes, manages social media accounts and announces roller derby games.

4 Comments

Lukraakvars

Oh wow, and here I was thinking I was the only smartass doing this! haha I recently figured this out too! Its super effective! (Fyi, I laughed a lot at you candy crush piece 🙂 ) Thanks for sharing. Peace.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *