The invasion of digital technology in our lives has not been a gradual process. On the contrary, digital lifestyle came with a bang and overnight, or so it seemed, the entire paradigms were shifted. Today, it is impossible to think of a world without internet, or even your smartphone for that matter.
Since most of our activity today is online, one has a number of accounts on various platforms; from social media sites to email accounts and online shopping platforms to real-time banking solutions, we are hard pressed to create safe and strong passwords for our plethora of accounts that will withstand the hacking attempts.
Even more important is to remember that strong password you come up with. Each security breach invariably leads us to question our online security and hence there is a frenzy of online activity to change passwords. This brings us to the ultimate question. How secure is your password? Does password length guarantee online safety? How can one remember a strong password?
Here are a few tips that you can employ to create a strong yet easy to remember password.
The Obvious Tip for a strong password
Foremost is the obvious choice of going for a random password. You need to incorporate a mix of alphanumeric characters in your password. One may question the wisdom of choosing a random password since they are the hardest to remember. But then again, the random for others might not be a random for you. If you were to stick to a purely random password, which will have no significance for you, it will make it impossible for you to recall it when needed. Thus we opt for something which is closer to your heart but appears just like a jumble of numbers and alphabets to a stranger.
Use a combination of upper and lower case letters. Also include some symbols in your password as they add an extra layer of security and protect you form the password crackers which may employ simple dictionaries to break your password. Even with combinations, try to be intelligent in your approach. You may opt for replacing a 0 with an o but it so obvious that anyone could guess it. A better option would be to opt for replacing an o with  or <> which will add length as well as a symbol to your password. It is advisable to avoid most commonly used symbols which like @ or $. The less frequently used, and thus relatively safer symbol options, are punctuations.
While choosing a combo, Always refrain from using your name or well-known digits related to you like your date of birth, car license number etc. Instead opt for numbers which are random but significant for you like the amount of your first paycheck.
Though length adds a semblance of security to your password, the Adobe hack made it obvious that length alone cannot guarantee your safety.
It is a common practice to use a series of letters or numbers like 1234567890 or abcdefgh or even qwerty as a password. The users seek security in the length of these passwords while completely overlooking the fact that, length or not, these are the easiest passwords to crack.
In this regards, a safer technique is to employ Schneier’s method. This technique is ideal because it does not rely solely on one technique. He suggests that you choose a phrase and then employ its first letters as password while making substitutions for symbols and/or upper and lower case combo where it can be employed effectively. E.g. ‘Downton Abbey is the best season’ will become Dai7b5 which is random as well as easy to remember.
While you might huff and puff over it, there is no denying the fact that the more you reuse the same password for your various accounts, the more exposed and vulnerable you are to an attack by the hackers.
An easier way out is to recondition your password in a manner that it retains its original flavor but is changed just enough to make it different from your original password; e.g. you might consider adding something like the site initials in your password. Like for facebook, your password might become fbDai7b5 while for twitter you may go for Dai7b5T.
Remember and Recall
Seems impossible? Your best bet are the Password Management Tools which are readily available. By using these tools you can easily store and manage your passwords. Above all, these tools eliminate the need of using the same passwords over and over again.
The age old adage puts it very well: A chain is as weak as its weakest link. As for a strong password, you need to be sure that your weakest point is secure enough to provide you online security from malicious attempts. Remember, no technique is perfect or fool-proof way to stay safe. You have to be constantly vigilant as well as intelligent in your choices.
Your best choice will be to go for a clever combo of these techniques so as to have a safe and secure online web surfing experience.