How do you choose a good password?

To choose a good password is more important now than ever. So how do you choose a good password that is also easy to remember?

A surprising fact is that the length matters. A lot. So my suggestion is simple. To choose a good password, create an easy to remember string of words. Here are some examples along with their password score.

Password Score
wherethesidewalkends 4 / 4
bewarethejabberwock 4 / 4
fromheretoeternity 4 / 4
joemaryalicejohnmichael 4 / 4

As you can see, symbols, numbers and capital letters are not required for a good password. However, I would recommend you throw some in for several reasons. One, they are often required by websites and two, if it is easy to remember, why not make it harder to guess? And you never know when the hackers might start using a database of movie and book names… Just sayin’. You can use numbers like the year or count of the number of words in your string. And just tack on the same symbols at the begining and end so you always know what they are regardless of the words in between. Your signature symbols if you will.

Remember these elements are not necessarily going to make your password stronger. They are going to help you use the same one on multiple sites. So the above list could be

Password Score
WheretheSidewalkEnds4 4 / 4
$bewarethejabberwock# 4 / 4
fromheretoeternityMovie 4 / 4
1joe2mary3alice4john5michael 4 / 4

I would recommend changing your password at least once a year for your important accounts like bank and credit card. And never use the same password for those sites as the password you use for something that may not be that secure (like a forum).

So realistically, you should have at least three passwords. One for your bank accounts, one for online shopping sites and one for goofy stuff you have to sign up for but do not give them your credit card. But seriously, don’t we all have a slew of really bad passwords right now we can’t remember? So now you just need to keep up with three.

And you could just tack on the same word for each type. So bewarethejabberwock4 becomes bewarethejabberwock4bank and bewarethejabberwock4store and bewarethejabberwock4goofy. Now you’re back to one password and an easy to remember system of word count plus usage type. Easy peasy!

You could get really slick and pick up a favorite book and highlight a sentence to use then include the page number in the password. I know, right? Then your record is highlighted. (Just keep moving forward not backward or jumping around so you always know your last. And don’t lose the book 🙂 This might be the system to use if your last name ends in 007. Which mine does in case you’re wondering…

There is a really good online tool developed by Dropbox to help you find your perfect password for this year using their new meter zxcvbn.

This is the algorithm I used for the above test and the one WordPress is now using. Granted, if someone with enough resources wants your password, you better go for a high score all the way to the bottom of the list. But for most of us, The unthrottled online attack score is good and if you get a 3 out of 4, WordPress loves you. And we all want that, right?

Another drawback is that some sites actually limit your password length. So before you get all excited about your new safe secure easy to remember password, be sure to test it on the sites that matter. If you want to see some indepth discussion, this link is for you:

So make this the year you get your passwords under control and reduce your risk of identity theft. Staying safe online has never been harder. And thanks to the Dropbox tool, choosing a safe password has never been easier.