HELP! I CAN’T REMEMBER MY PASSWORDS
By Neil Offen
What’s the most difficult part of adapting to our new high-tech world if you’re pretty much an old-tech person?
The answer, obviously, must be at least eight characters long, include a capital and a lowercase letter, a number, a symbol, a cheese danish and make no sense at all. In other words, a password.
We now need them for pretty much everything we do. They are the indispensable signature of the high-tech age, required for ordering from Amazon, checking our bank balance, communicating with friends or posting snide comments about friends on multiple platforms.
They are obligatory for accessing our credit card accounts, signing into our tax preparer’s ultra-secret inner portal and ignoring emails from estranged relatives. They are our connection to the news, to shopping and to private notes on our personal blood pressure readings.
Passwords protect us from fraud, scams and identity theft. We are, in fact, constantly warned that without effective passwords our bank accounts could be ransacked, our privacy invaded and our identities stolen, unlikely to be replaced with more accomplished identities which could, occasionally, give major TED talks.
So how do you come up with safe, secure passwords you can actually remember? (Like many people my age, there’s little room for remembering passwords because my memory capacity is already filled with detritus like the starting lineup for the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers* and the lyrics to the chorus of the song “Leader of the Pack.”**)
Sure, we could use something called a password manager, but then we’d have to figure out how to use something called a password manager. Instead, here are some easy-to-follow suggestions on how to create safe, secure passwords:
Take a sentence and turn it into a password. Select a phrase or a song lyric or a book title that’s particularly memorable to you, such as Now Is The Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of Their Country or That’s Why I Fell for the Leader of the Pack. Take the first letter of each word in the sentence (for instance, TWIFftLotP) and create your password. Then always include a Cyrillic number, such as . Be sure not to confuse that with .
Make sure your password includes an umlaut. If you do not know what an umlaut is, or the umlaut store is simply out of them, they temporarily can be replaced with a ~.
Pick a series of unrelated common words. This could be something like cloud tomato, asparagus Beyonce or Republican integrity.
Use a series of numbers in your password. These should be random numbers. It’s really best that they aren’t 1234567890. Trust me.
Your password cannot be the same as your user name. Unless, of course, your user name is 1234567890.
Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. You don’t want, for instance, to make an appointment at your urologist’s office by mistake and find out you have a high prostate number when you had planned to get a reservation for two, on the patio, at that nice new Italian place. Remember, once hackers have figured out your urologist password, they may get the last available table at that nice new Italian place.
And finally, and this may go without saying — but, you know — never use the word password as your password. Not even p@ssword, unless you add an umlaut.
*Junior Gilliam, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Sandy Amoros, Jackie Robinson, Carl Furillo, Roy Campanella.
**“That’s why I fell for … The Leader of the Pack.”
Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.