How to remember 150 different passwords without your brain exploding

At the last count I had 150 different computer accounts and no, they don’t all have the same password! The last thing I want is for somebody who cracks my password for an online word processor to then get access to my bank account.

A secure database to store all my passwords

I use an excellent open-source password database called KeePass to keep track of all my passwords (as well any other registration keys, credit card numbers and codes). I also record any details required when registering with a new site, then if my postal address changes I can do a quick search through the database to see which sites I need to update with my new address.

This is a big help, but I don’t want to fire up a password manager every single time I need to login to something. So I have a manual system for generating passwords based on the service name or website.

A unique and secure password for each service

Here are two examples:

For hotmail.com

This is how I login 2 Hotmail letter 3 = t which gives the password: TihIl2H-l3=t

Or for Skype.com

This is how I login 2 Skype letter 3 = y which gives the password: TihIl2S-l3=y

I think these are secure passwords, they are 12 characters long, a mixture of upper and lower case, contain no names or dates and the phrase makes them quite easy to remember.

So with a system like this you can remember your different passwords, protect your online identity and of course there’s little chance of splattering your monitor with brain.

Going further

Consider having a few different passwords phrases and encoding systems, that way even if somebody gets hold of a few of your passwords they still can’t crack everything.

Change your password system occasionally. This is actually why I use a password database like KeePass. By keeping it up to date I know which passwords I’ve changed. Otherwise you never change your passwords because you’re afraid you’ll forget which passwords changed and to what.

You might want to consider using an automated system for generating passwords based on a domain name which is even more secure than the manual system I described.

(This post inspired by a discussion about passwords with Coolz0r)

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5 Responses to How to remember 150 different passwords without your brain exploding

  1. bren says:

    This is pretty handy dandy indeed. =)

  2. Miel says:

    Nifty. Really nifty. I’ll try to do it this way.

  3. WSA says:

    I prefer the free CyberScrub KeyChain Password Manager. We use this at work http://www.cyberscrub.com/keychain
    I copied this from their website
    Manage ALL Passwords with One Phrase. When you log on to KeyChain with your Master Pass Phrase you will have instant access to all of your password protected websites. Select your destination from a special list you have created- then simply “Click & Go”. It’s that easy! Each time you visit a site requiring a user name and password KeyChain auto enters this information and logs you in. It even prompts you to add these passwords to the program if you have not already done so. Never manually fill in credit card details again. Online shopping is a snap because KeyChain automatically enters your selected credit card details, Shipping and Billing address and more. All of your data is secured with strong encryption. Only you have access to the sensitive data within KeyChain. All information, including passwords, credit cards and other data, is protected with strong encryption algorithms. The USB flash drive also synchronizes with your host computer to back up your encrypted password list. This is an important feature should your PC crash or fail. You may also utilize the USB flash drive, if desired, for Dual User Authentication. This requires the user to not only enter the Master Pass Phrase, but also to plug the USB flash drive into their computer. Easy to use, backed award winning CyberScrub Customer Support.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You can use KeePass and have it create a randomly generated 20 character password every time you sign on. You can’t do it for Hotmail though because MSN has a 16 character password limit ( just make a 16 character password )

    Making phrases for your passwords incredibly decreases your actual security, your enemies find out and you’d be toast.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Correction; not when you sign on, I meant when you create a new entry.

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