Keeping up with password requirements for all your personal and professional accounts can feel fruitless and frustrating. Online safety best practices dictate using new passwords for each account and updating them frequently. But how can you remember all your passwords and still protect your personal information?
Creating a Password You Won’t Have to Reset
Creating a secure password that you won’t constantly forget is easier than you think. We recommend using an old trick your high school teachers might have used for remembering important information: mnemonic devices. This method involves relying on a long phrase you’ll easily remember, like lyrics to a favorite song or a quote — for example:
A penny saved is a penny earned
Use just the first letter of each word in the phrase. Then, randomly use upper- and lowercase letters:
The longer the password, the more secure it is. Add a few numbers and special characters:
Using this method, you will always remember your password because the phrase will jog your memory. And it’s secure because the password itself is an arbitrary collection of numbers, letters and symbols. You can also check your password strength to be safe.
Tools for Keeping Passwords Safe
The best way to keep your passwords safe is to memorize them. Though it’s convenient and easy for you to find saved passwords in your web browser, it’s easy for hackers too.
While some browsers like Chrome have improved the security of their password managers, some experts recommend using a third-party password manager instead. These programs plug into your web browser and store all your passwords in one place, so you just need one secure password to access everything. The downside? If the password manager is ever infiltrated, all your passwords are compromised at once.
If you want to write down your passwords, treat the file like you would any other secure information. Keep passwords in a different place from other sensitive information, like a bank-account number, where someone could connect the dots to steal your identity. Avoid storing a file with your passwords in the cloud or using “password” in the file name. If you use a physical password book, store it in a safe location.
Why You Should Recover Old Passwords
In 2019, you’re probably wise to the importance of strong passwords. But this might not have always been the case. Your old social media accounts with likely weaker passwords might be putting you at risk years later.
To check which social media accounts are associated with your name or email address, run a people search for yourself on Spokeo. To protect yourself from potential cyberattacks, you should delete accounts you no longer use (and have long forgotten about!).
You’ll likely need to recover old passwords to delete any old accounts. Usually, social media accounts, email accounts and other platforms have a “forgot password” option. If not, you can view your saved passwords in your web browser.
Katrina Ballard is a communications manager in Washington, D.C. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and has written extensively on technology, business and more.