In this article, I will teach you a password memorisation technique that will allow you to write down your passwords, put them where everyone can see them, and yet have no one able to access your accounts (except yourself, of course)!
Using this technique, you will no longer have to deliberate if a password is memorable, nor use identical passwords from site to site “so I won’t forget”.
This password memorisation technique is fun, and it helps stir your creative juices! Itching to know more aren’t you? Well, itch no more, read on and learn!
Passwords, Passwords, Everywhere
Like the billions of users of the Internet, you probably have tens of passwords to remember. There are passwords for your email (multiple accounts, of course: home, office, junkmail, messenger), del.icio.us, Internet-banking, messenger, some online magazine subscription… and we’re not even getting started!
The way most of us will deal with these passwords is to have the same ones for every account (which is a major security risk, but we won’t go into that here).
Well, using the same passwords for many sites is actually very convenient. But unfortunately, some passwords are “numbers-only”, some require “6-8 alphanumeric characters”, some “at least 5 characters in length”; so, we can’t use the same passwords all across the board, not forgetting it’s a major security risk as well.
Just how can we deal with all this?
Write it Down
I propose that you write these passwords down on a piece of paper, and paste it right on the side of your monitor. Before you scream “what the f***? That’s a bloody security risk!”, read on.
Using (Simple) Encryption
Let’s say you open a gmail account, and you want the password to be “2pigeon0”. Now, you have to encrypt this password, to make it unreadable by others, and only readable by you. Once you have encrypted it, you write it down on the piece of paper.
Encryption doesn’t have to be complicated, though it can be. One of the most simple encryption methods would be moving each letter back one letter of the alphabet. So, if your password was “bcd”, after encryption it’d be “abc”. Simple, right?
Encryption is a creative process, and the more creative you are, the more enjoyable the process will be.
I know of a man with one of the most ingenious methods of encryption. A word-loving man, his encryption method involves the use of his beloved Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, sitting atop its own stand next to his computer.
The following encryption method is adapted from him.
In the password we picked, the word “pigeon” is a main part of it. I look up the word “pigeon” in the dictionary, and note down the page number (158). Next, I look up the position of the word on the page. In my case, it is the third word from the top (3).
On the piece of paper, I write down these numbers: “215830”
If you’re wondering how I got those numbers, maybe the following schematic might help:
[page number][position on page] => “215830”.
The number “2” at the start, and “0” at the end are arbitrary numbers, added to increase the password’s complexity (and therefore its strength).
If you have a page which is “numbers only”, all you have to do is reverse the process.
In the previous example, my encrypted password was “215830”. But if I needed a “numbers-only pin”, my encrypted password would be “2pigeon0”, which would translate back to “215830”.
Due to the password being made up of entirely numbers, differentiating the “page number” from the “position on page” will be a problem; where does the page start (“is it page 15, or 158?”). To aid readability, we might add a number “0” after each part. Therefore, the end result would be “202580300”.
Again, here’s the schematic:
[page number][position on page]
Of course, this is just one way of encryption (albeit a very elaborate one).
You can (and should!) devise your own creative way of encryption; the possibilities are endless. The gist of it is to write down an encrypted form of your password on a piece of paper. All you need to remember is your method of encryption.
When choosing your method of encryption, remember this: the easier it is to encrypt/decrypt, the weaker the password; the more elaborate and complex it is to encrypt/decrypt, the stronger it is.
You just have to choose along the continuum of security and convenience. But while you’re wondering how much security we can get away with, remember, the best hackers are on the net; people walking around our desks generally aren’t going to be able to crack any code, (that is, unless you work at Google).
I love to read and write. Professionally, data science, technology, and sales ops are my thing. In my non-professional life, I aspire quite simply to be a good person, and encourage others to do the same. For those who care, I test as INFJ in the MBTI.