2. Remembering all those passwords – a little trick that works

techtipsfortradeunionistsThere are two basic rules about passwords on the Internet:

1 – Don’t use the same password more than once.

2 – Make sure the password isn’t an easily-guessable word.  Ideally, use a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers.

So what happens when you have accounts on Amazon, Gmail, eBay, and elsewhere?  How do you ensure a minimal level of security?

One way is to write them all down somewhere — more on this later in this series — but that’s insecure by definition.

Here’s a better solution: don’t create passwords — create a password formula that you always use.

Let’s say you want to have a password for Amazon that’s different from your password on Facebook.

Do this — create a password formula that could be something like this:

  • The first 2 letters come from the website that you’re creating the password for — e.g., ‘fa’ for Facebook, ‘am’ for Amazon, etc.
  • The next 2 letters are in upper case and mean something to you, but are not your initials — e.g., MX or ZP.
  • Then you add four digits — not your year of birth! — but ideally a random set of four digits.

The only things that change for the password from site to site are the first two letters.  The others stay the same.

So your Amazon password becomes am3759XZ and your Facebook password would be fa3759XZ and so on.

These are different passwords for every website, and they’re not easily guessable unless you’ve shared your formula with someone.

You don’t need to write them down — you just need to remember the final 6 characters (in this case, 3759XZ).

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t stick with any password for very long — I change mine every month.

And do NOT use this system for your bank or credit card accounts — you should have a totally separate system for that.