Now what was that password?

By Tom Kellen

As Project Managers, we often have to access many different computer and on-line systems every day, and most of those probably have passwords.  As I’m sure you’ve been told by many different IT people, it is important to have a strong password and not to use the same password on all systems.  Since it can be frustrating to try to come up with passwords you can remember but are also tough to hack, I thought I would pass on a couple of hints to make this a bit easier.

To make a password harder to guess, it should contain both upper and lower case letters and numbers and symbols if possible.  One of the easiest tricks is to substitute some characters with numbers or symbols.  Some of the most common are changing any “o” characters with the zero numeral, and L or I with the numeral one.  You can also substitute the /, slash symbol for L’s and combine the forward and backward slashes, /, to replace an A.  Just these few changes would allow the football fan to use F00tb/// as a fairly secure password. Other common substitutions are 5 for S and 3 for E (yes, it’s kind of a backwards E).

Now to make the password even more secure, but still memorable, you can combine 2 unrelated words that are still easy for you to remember.   Let’s say that you drive a Honda and that one of your favorite things is how your puppy greets you when you get home.  Putting Honda and Bark together with the substitutions above might give you a password of H0nd/B/rk.  That is easy to remember, but not so easy to guess.  I’ve always wished I could play an instrument and two of the ones I wish I could play are bass guitar and saxophone, so one of the passwords I used to use was B/55&S/x, substituting the 5s for S and using the ampersand to join the two words together.

So on your next project as you’re told that you will have to use 3 different computer systems, don’t groan, just smile and get creative with these tips.  You’ll have those passwords whipped up in no time!


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