The best way to be a master of passwords


Please don’t hack us… everyone would end up disappointed.

It’s a good idea to change your password every so often. Sometimes it’s such a good idea that you are forced to change them by ‘the man’. That’s what the computers were like at school and uni; that’s what they are like at work.

The problem I had for a long time, before becoming a password master, was that every time I had to change I would grieve the loss of my old password.

Password grief is way less bad than normal grief but I think maybe it has more stages.

Sure you’ve got the Kubler-ross classics of denial (I always wait until the last day despite the warnings), anger, bargaining (though the computer will never listen), depression and acceptance. But there’s more to it than that.

There’s has to be an anxiety stage somewhere around the bargaining point. ‘What password willI I choose? I don’t know anymore words. Help me! I need to think of the most memorable phrase in the whole world.

And then there’s the error phase which comes just after acceptance. You’ve got over the change emotionally but you still end up typing your old password in a couple of times before the error message reminds you that it’s gone.

After error comes the embrace stage, which is the final one. Your old password is a distant memory and your new password is the best thing ever. You don’t even think about it when you log in. 

But then a couple of weeks after the embrace stage has hit, you’re given the first warning that soon your password will need to change.

How do you get out of the cycle of password panic?

How do you free up your brain to worry about bigger and more noble things?

I’ll tell you how. It’s simple actually.

The answer is word association – the popular car game that isn’t as good as the best car game.

All you have to do is think of any word.

Maybe you thought of the word puberty. That would be your first password. But you want to make it safer by adding a little code and putting in some capital letters.

So in this example my first password is PuBerty#!2

According to this website that would take a desktop pc 58 years to crack. By which time I will be retired and I will not care!

Then I just play word association: PuBerty#!2 – AwKward#!2 – TuRtle#!2 – NiNja#!2 – I could go on for most of the day!

Nowadays, I look forward to my password change – it’s a fun challenge and each new password adds to the dynasty. My chain of passwords is pretty impressive but it would be unwise to share it with you.

I didn’t start my chain with puberty that’s for sure…

So that’s the best thing today and surely, surely, surely we’ve changed your life by now?

But before you go, maybe I should point out that this isn’t the best way to get a really safe password. It’s more the best way to deal with password grief.

If security is your game then you should go for a long but easy to remember sequence of words. Like FridgeApeFlyKnitting. The password checker says that will take a desktop PC 165 quadrillion years to crack…