How to Create Secure and Memorable Network Passwords

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We were at a friends house last night for a little bit of mid-week relaxation (read: drinking a Margarita) last night, but we brought along our laptop because we also had a little off-topic research to do online (Bridesmaid dresses, if you must know). When the time came to sink into the couch and get to work, our friend passed us a torn corner of notebook paper with what was seemingly a zillion letters and numbers hastily scribbled across its lines. A dialogue of drunken hilarity ensued with the words "Is that an 'e' or a 'c'? I can't see straight" spoken more than once. We quickly realized that a secure wireless network password may not be worth it if nobody can ever connect. But then we stumbled along this trick...

Advice from the IT Toolbox suggests that you shouldn't make your password any less cryptic to the outside world and outside bots, but instead convert a phrase you can remember into one of those long complicated passwords that we know and love loathe. For example, you could choose your favorite song lyrics and convert them into a password.

Below are some lyrics from Nora Jones Turn Me On:

The glass is waitin' For some fresh ice cubes I'm just sittin' here Waitin' for you to come on home And turn me on Turn me on

An easy code to de-code in your post-margarita state is to replace some letters with numbers: E converts to 3, S converts to 5, O converts to 0 and I converts to 1.

In this case They've used the first letter of each word as a character for their new password. They've chosen to use a '1' for the 'I' in 'I'm'. They've replaced the word 'for' for the number '4'. They've converted the word 'you' to a capital 'U' and 'to' to the number '2'. They've used the symbol "&" rather then the word "and". Finally, they've decided since she repeats the last set of lyrics twice, they added '2' beside the letters representing those lyrics, eventually creating a password that looks something like this:

TgiwFsfic1mjshw4U2ch&tmox2

Now, nobody is saying that you should be able to recite your network password at the drop of a hat, but this is actually a clever little way to make sure that your password isn't something completely arbitrary and that maybe just once, you'l' know for sure that it's a 'c' and not an 'e.' Because don't you pay for internet access at home to actually use it and not play a spy decoding game?

[ Image from Michale@Flickr ]

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Taryn is a writer, maker, designer, and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe. She lives in an apartment in Atlanta with her fiancé, their Boston Terrier and lots of serving dishes.

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