Magazine article American Libraries

Unforgettable Passwords: In the Age of Faster Processing Speeds, Online Security Demands Greater User Viligance

Magazine article American Libraries

Unforgettable Passwords: In the Age of Faster Processing Speeds, Online Security Demands Greater User Viligance

Article excerpt

How many passwords do you have? Michael has 221; David has 210. Some are for social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, while others are for services used occasionally, such as SoundCloud (a place to store and share audio files) or Trip it (a travel app). The rest are for services and tools we have tried out but haven't used lately, such as Second Life. There are "real life" passwords, too. David has a federal student aid password for his oldest daughter. Both of us have travel-related passwords (i.e., mileage and awards programs), not to mention credit card and bank passwords. David's church even has a password for its online member forum.

Regardless of the number of passwords you may have, we all know they can be difficult to keep track of. And now, there's an even greater concern about security because of improved computer processing speeds, which enable hacking programs to identify valid password combinations with rapid ease. So, how can you keep your passwords safe and memorable? Here are some tips.

Mnemonically yours

David asked his Twitter and Face-book contacts; some said they simply write them down in a notebook or on a piece of scrap paper. Not the most secure, but it works for some people.

Many have a knack for remembering things and use this ability to track passwords. Via Facebook, librarian Jim Peterson said he writes them down immediately and refers to them until they're committed to memory. Via Twitter, librarian Vassiliki Veros similarly wrote, "I memorize them, but they're all around the same theme. Husband uses same theme, so we know each other's in case of misadventure."

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Some people create a formula that helps them create unique, strong passwords that are also easy to remember. Librarian Toby Greenwalt tweeted that he uses a formula that employs "a consistent alphanumeric phrase and plugs in a mnemonic that uses the name of the site." For example, he wrote, "if my phrase is 'mypassword,' I'd throw in a number or two and either 'tw' or 'wt,' making mYp2ssTwwOrd. …

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