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Jun 24 2008   8:47PM GMT

Overheard: How to remember your strong password

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

mail7.jpg “For most people, changing passwords is little bit of a pain in the ass.”

Smackdown, Passwords That Are Easy To Remember But Impossible To Guess

Way back in the day when the kids would do the modem dance (bong, bong) and yell “I’m in!” when they got through to AOL, my oldest daughter forgot her new password after changing it three times in one day and had to call AOL to find out what her password was.

Yep, that’s what you did in those days. You’d call AOL up on the phone and give them your old password and they’d give you your new password. The reason I remember this is because it turns out my oldest daughter had chosen a VERY BAD WORD for the last password that worked — and pretty much cried because she had to say it out loud on the phone to the AOL rep in front of her parental units. (She was 13. It’s good that she felt bad.)

In that spirit — sort of — the author of the blog Smackdown has created a strong password generator that encourages you to pronounce your strong password out loud and memorize it that way.

The random ones from his generator are still too hard for me to memorize, but if you stretch the idea and pronounce your strong password as if it’s a text message abbreviation, it fits my learning style perfectly.

So I’m going to make up some new strong password rules for myself and see if I can not cringe the next time I’m forced to change passwords.


Here are my new strong password rules, and a couple of examples for you to see how my new speak-aloud process works. (Give yourself extra points if you’ve already been doing this and I’m just late to the party.)


1. Should be at least 8 characters long
2. Should contain at least one number and one special ASCII character
3. Should be a mix of upper and lower case letters

My own additions:
4. Substitute the number 1 for the word “I”
5. If the word is capitalized, or the word is important, use upper case letter


tr2GDumd — pronounced “There are two GUIDE DOGS under my desk”

1ma*diPMM — pronounced “I am a star, damn it, PAY ME MORE”

1dcwbP@l@inGB — pronounced “I don’t care who becomes President as long as it’s not GEORGE BUSH”

Try creating a new strong password of your own — not only will you be able to remember the darn thing and impress your system administrator with your super-strong passwords, you’ll have a mysterious smile on your face every time you type your passphrase and everyone will wonder what you’re up to!

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