How to choose good passwords

2 min read  
Date: 03 October 2016

We are often asked for tips on how to create (and remember) strong passwords. Below are some excellent suggestions from Carnegie Mellon University on this topic.

The single best method for generating passwords is to follow these steps.

Step 1 - Make up a sentence you can easily remember. Some examples:

  • I have two kids:Jack and Jill.
  • I like to eat Dave and Andy's ice cream.
  • No, the capital of Wisconsin isn't Cheeseopolis!

Step 2 - Take the first letter of every word in the sentence, and include the punctuation. You can throw in extra punctuation, or turn numbers into digits for variety. The above sentences would become:

  • Ih2k:JaJ.
  • IlteDaA'ic.
  • N,tcoWi'C!

As you can see, the passwords generated by this method can be fairly secure, and should be easy to remember if the sentence you pick is an easy one for you to recall.

An alternative method also generates "reasonably secure" passwords (though not quite as good as the method above).

Step 1 - Choose two or more unrelated words such as:

  • book and goat
  • august and brick
  • unix and fun

Step 2 - Join the words with a non-alphabetic character or two. Make at least one change (for example, uppercase a letter or add another character) to one or more of the words (preferably not just at the very beginning or end of the password).

Some example passwords generated using this method:

  • bo!ok29goat
  • august,=bRICK
  • unix+PhUn

Choosing a safe password is very important, especially when you are dealing with your financial details and accounts. Obviously, we suggest that you don't use one of the password examples above!

Source: Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science


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