There should be no doubt that it’s essential to have a strong password for your email account, your online banking, your computer and any site where you have an account that uses your credit card such as Amazon.com or iTunes.com. Here is my secret to strong passwords:
First, you must know that if your password is ever leaked from a website as happens from time to time, that same password with your email address can be used on other sites if you use the same password for every site you visit. That means that you must use a different password on each site you visit that’s important enough to protect. I do use a weaker password on some sites where my credit card information can only be used to pay for services but not products; for example, my Tivo account and my high-speed internet service are on different websites, but they use the same weaker password. It’s only necessary to use a different password where your credit card can be used to buy products (in addition to your most important sites such as email, your computer, your online banking, etc.).
You may think it’s hard to have a different password for each site, but that’s where the secret comes in because it makes it easier. The secret is to have one easy-to-remember “key-ring” password, a joining character and a pattern. That’s all.
So in this example, we start with a key-ring password by picking a song, band and year. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin and released in 1971 becomes S2HLZ71. Star Wars starring Harrison Ford released in 1976 becomes SWHF76. It’s not necessary to worry about upper and lower case letters just yet. The important thing is that you have something easy to remember.
Next, you choose a junction key or something to join your password to the website you are using. You can use any of these and more than one if you really wish to: plus sign, underscore, exclamation point, equal sign, dash, dollar sign, pound symbol, etc.
Finally, you choose a pattern for the website you are using this password with. For example, it’s not uncommon for people to abbreviate Bank of America as B of A. Using this same pattern of upper case and lower case, you can make any website the same. Amazon.com becomes AmaZ. For your Gmail account, it could be GmaI.
When you put them all together, you end up with a very complex and hard-to-crack password that is suited for each site you use.
Bank of America becomes S2HLZ71+BofA.
Amazon.com becomes S2HLZ71+AmaZ.
For a Gmail account, you would use S2HLZ71+GmaI.
iTunes would become S2HLZ71+ItuN.
The more that you use your key-ring password, the easier it will be to remember the rest of your password using your joining character and the pattern of uppercase and lowercase for the site you are visiting.