How To Create Strong Passwords – and Remember Them
The Etax team assembled these tips to help you take control of your passwords and logins (and be safer online)
Do you re-use the same password on different websites? That’s a risky thing to do, because if your password is leaked or stolen for just one site, someone might gain access your entire “online life”. Even if your one password is a well-guarded secret, the trouble is that big companies can get hacked or make mistakes – names as big as Sony, Adobe and Twitter have appeared in reports about hacked client information.
Remembering a unique password for every website is difficult. A typical person may have dozens of logins.
a lot of people have
a lot of trouble remembering
a lot of passwords
The “Password Breakdown”
If you start forgetting passwords and you re-set them again and again, you could enter a common, downward spiral. You might start to forget all of your passwords, or “cheat” and start using the one, single password you can remember. It’s frustrating and also risky because it leaves you more vulnerable to online identity theft or fraud.
Don’t worry! This does not have to be you.
There are good, easy ways to make strong passwords and AND remember them.
Password Safety Idea #1
Create A Simple Password System – the secret rules method
Here’s the trick: By creating a few simple, secret rules that define all of your passwords, you can create a strong, unique passwords for each website and remember them, every time.
Jennifer made up three rules for creating new passwords:
1. The password starts with her dog’s private nickname, with the last letter in capitals – that’s ralphiE – followed by the number 9.
2. Jennifer enters the second, third and fourth letters of the website URL, then the number of letters in the URL name.
3. She adds the word “Kibbles” with an upper-case “K”, and ends with the first and second letter in the URL.
Today Jennifer is setting up an account at www.netflix.com.au.
Her Netflix password will be… ralphiE9etf7Kibblesne (colour-coded to show which of the above rules apply to each part)
That password looks hard to remember, doesn’t it? But Jennifer can remember it easily – she just looks at the URL, remembers her 3 simple rules, and she’s logged in every time.
What’s good about that password?
- Random – nobody could guess this password.
- Unique – if someone got one of Jenna’s passwords, they would not get access to her other accounts.
- It has upper-case letters and numbers inside the password – some websites require this and it makes it harder for people or robots to “crack” your password.
- It’s long enough – websites won’t say “enter a longer password”. More than ten characters is a minimum target for strong passwords.
- It has no easily-guessed words or numbers – no family names, no birthdays, no address or phone, etc.
- Jennifer can remember it! As long as she remembers her 3 rules, she can log in anywhere.
Don’t use the same rules as Jennifer! Make up your own system with new rules that are known only to you. And don’t make your rules too simple. Here are some more ideas you could start with and modify:
- Apply a simple maths equation to the number of characters in the company’s URL to generate a unique number inside each password.
- Use and re-use different characters from the URL, remembering them by their order in the URL eg. the last, 3rd and 1st characters in the website login URL.
- Use characters from the business name instead of the website – sometimes they’re different.
- Use a clever but memorable pattern to re-order some of the letters you use.
- Convert some letters into numbers, eg. “I’ll use the number of the first vowel in the URL and if there’s no vowel I use zero.” For netflix, the number would be 5; the first vowel is “e” and it is the fifth letter of the alphabet.
If you think for a few minutes, you can come up with your own version of these ideas, and probably some clever new tricks of your own.
Don’t share your secret password rules with anyone. Ever. If you want to explain this concept to someone else, send them to this webpage but never reveal your secret rules to explain it!
Password Safety Idea #2
Subscribe to a Password Management System
A password management system is a secure online tool that saves your passwords, helps you choose good strong ones, and lets you access everything via one very secure login. This means logging into websites can become sort of “invisible” and painless because the password manager completes logins for you, automatically.
Some password managers are free. Others have low monthly or annual fees.
Choose a good one that fits your needs, rather than just choosing a free version.
The best password management systems work smoothly across multiple devices. So, the same system manages your logins whether you’re on your laptop or your phone. If you use multiple devices a lot, this is a very important feature.
Two popular options include:
- Dashlane Premium (free on one device, or many devices for $39/year)
- LastPass Premium (free trial, then $12/year)
Please note we do not endorse or test any of these systems. There are many to choose from.
Want to do some comparison shopping? Here are two articles that list and review the most popular password managers:
Is a password manager perfect? Well, no. Some people find them frustrating or hard to understand. With some systems, if you forget your master password, you’re locked out permanently. And nothing is 100% secure. Tech website ARSTechnica says,
…Password managers aren’t perfect—there is no such thing as perfect online security…
…if used properly, they would undoubtedly improve security for a large population of people using weak passwords.
More articles about online safety
- Online “self defence habits” help keep you safe on the web. https://www.etax.com.au/online-safety-and-privacy/
How to change your old Etax password to one that’s more secure:
- log in with your old password,
- open a tax return,
- go to My Account in the menu,
- enter a new password,
- re-enter it in the next field,
- click save at the bottom of the page.
Disclaimer: While every care has been exercised in the compilation of this content, Etax Accountants, in making it available to you, will not be liable for errors or omissions in the material or data in the content, or for any consequences arising from such errors or omissions. This content should not be relied upon as a substitute for detailed advice. Etax does not endorse, recommend or warranty any brand, website, service or product mentioned in this article. Your online privacy and security is your responsibility.