Security Corner

Jan 18 2011   1:25AM GMT

Password Voodoo

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

I get the same question every day: “How can I make a password that is strong and easy to remember?” Frankly, when I’m in the cranky mood I was earlier today, I’m tempted to answer with a simple question in return: “Do you ever bother to read my posts?” Of course, the answer is that no, they don’t bother–they’re too lazy to look up my posts. Granted, it’s far easier to ask me and make a mental note than it is to actually find a post, read it, take notes, and take action. At least you would think so. The problem is, five minutes after I answer their question, they’ll forget what I told them, and the next time they see me, they’ll ask again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Four hundred years from now, when passwords have long since been replaced with real security measures, these same people, if they were still alive, would be asking the same question.

People want it easy; they want magic. People want to twitch their noses like Samantha on the TV sitcom Bewitched and make everything work they way they want without further effort.

It doesn’t work that way.

But, there is a bit of password voodoo that’s almost as quick as a nose twitch and it won’t take more than about 15 seconds to implement:

  1. Turn your keyboard over
  2. Find the FCC ID number
  3. Change the case of every other character
  4. Voila! A strong password that no one will guess.

It’s written down for you right there on your keyboard, but who is going to think to look there? The label on the bottom of my keyboard has enough information to create a completely uncrackable password.

Need to change the password after you’ve done this? Follow this sequence:

  1. Reverse the case you used previously
  2. Reverse the order of the characters
  3. Reverse the case again
  4. Shift the characters to the left, placing the leftmost character at the end
  5. Reverse the case again
  6. Repeat #4 and #5 through several iterations

Are your getting this?

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