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Odds and Ends, People

Passwords

Many of us have at least two email accounts – one corporate and another personal. Facebook is probably the third account. If you are a professional then also a LinkedIn account. Added to this is the bank, mobile and utility payment accounts. If you are a bit internet savvy then one can also add half a dozen more website accounts.

How does one manage the passwords for all these accounts? There are four methods I can think of.

  1. Remember all the passwords – requires phenomenal memory. With most sites asking for at least six character length passwords with at least a capital, number and special symbol it is a feat to remember all of them.
  2. Do not remember all of them – remember one and store all the rest in that account. Easy and convenient until you realize that you have forgotten the main password. However not a bad idea at all.
  3. Have the same password – a long password, complicated will help. The problem is many of the accounts demand a password change and when that happens you are back to square one.
  4. Write the password down somewhere secret safe and not accessible by any one – not a good idea by any stretch of imagination.

Many of us have our own mechanisms and they would all fall in perhaps the above four categories. While many of us may find it difficult to remember passwords, we may find it easier to remember the password mechanism. For example a nine character password can be visualized as a three 3-part set and its format can be <Season>/<DOW#><MONTH>/<DOWText>. If we are on 23-Feb-2012 a valid construction could be WIN502THU standing for WINter, Thursday = 5, February=02 and THUrsday. Interestingly the password changes daily. This implies that the rule must be encoded somewhere and this is not liked by many proponents of security. In fact a similar strategy is mentioned in Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes.

Another method is to remember your password normally in English but convert it Leet. An interesting idea but requires some practice. The most effective method is one of practice. It is best to access each and every of your password-ed accounts as frequently as possible. It adds to your daily chore but I suppose it is a small price to pay.  As it is we spend lot of time wandering through the network.

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “Passwords

  1. Another way could be the first 4 alphabets of the website + your DOB + character printed on the lucky number of yours (for an eg. @ at key containing 2 as well) + running year. At the time of change it could be next 4 alphabets and so on.
    This will help solving the concern for long term. But as you said correctly, practicing it will make much easier. 🙂

    Posted by architsharma | February 24, 2012, 12:31 am
  2. Read or heard somewhere that an English phrase is more difficult to hack than the current ‘strong password’ approach..unfortunately, none of the apps take a phrase as the password.

    Posted by Nanda Kumar | February 24, 2012, 8:48 am
  3. wait…till the bio password will come into widespread adoption…

    Posted by Mahadevan.p | February 24, 2012, 9:56 am
  4. I would suggest using extremely well written utilities like PasswordSafe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_Safe). You can always keep the program as well as the data on a USB drive to carry it along.

    Posted by Sandeep Rajpal | February 24, 2012, 11:00 am

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