We’ve all been there.
You fire up the computer and proceed to log in to an important account, and your mind goes blank. You try 5 different combinations of your password, and before you know it, you’re locked out. You curse your computer (you know you do) and all forms of technology, and walk away. You repent and calm your little heart, but you still can’t remember!
What if you could avoid “falling into temptation” on account of forgetfulness? May the following suggestions for maintaining your passwords be of some help. (You’ll note that none include the old but dangerous habit of using a sticky note on the front of your computer!)
After you’ve chosen a strong password (and if you haven’t read our article on this, give it a quick read here), consider using:
- a memory aid. (No, we’re not talking about fish oil or gingko biloba here). We’re talking about helpful phrases and associations. As mentioned in the above article, you can choose a strong password that works as memorable phrase, such as: I<3ourSav1our&RChurch. Let’s face it, that’s far easier to remember than a randomly generated string of characters, and you’ve still met the strong password criteria of using “one lowercase, one uppercase, one number, and one special character.” In addition, you’ve also made a helpful association – your church – so you’ve actually doubled your chances of remembering. Best of all, it’s not an easy password to crack, such as an
obvious bible verse (John3:16), popular biblical name, or just the name of your church. Or, you might consider part of a jingle, or an altered song lyric with added characters. This may also help, since we tend to remember things set to music – another memory aid.
- a password keeper. We mentioned this in the previous article as well, but it bears repeating. A password manager has alot going for it, helping to maintain your passwords in a secure place. Many versions will even generate strong passwords for you – usually a random string. The good thing is, you won’t have to remember them – the tool does it for you. This may be especially helpful for your most important accounts, such as banking for example, or similar accounts containing any sensitive, personal data. You can access a password manager from your smartphone as well, and most versions will allow you to copy/paste directly into your login screen.
- a written hint. As a last resort, if you absolutely can’t get yourself some password manager software, you can always write down a hint. A hint should be something only you will know the reference to, as a help to jog your memory – instead of writing the actual password itself. Don’t label it, or keep it in an obvious, out in the open place either (think post-it notes here). You’ll want to make your hint hard to find, and even harder to interpret if it is found!
- Finally, take a moment to think about your login habits, It’s always wise to remember general workstation security, such as how open your monitor is to snooping, and taking an extra second to lock your system when you step away. Following one or more of these practical hints can save a lot of time & grief – not to mention some unwelcome grumbling and complaining.