Password policies are really important.  Depending on the software being breached, a simple eight-character password (with no capitals or symbols) can be cracked in less than a second.

Time limits on passwords are even more important.  If you’re using the same password on your work PC that you used when LinkedIn was breached in 2012, then it doesn’t take any time at all to hack your password.  It’s already all over the internet.

Another thing that’s important is actually being able to get into your accounts.  We know it’s hard to remember your passwords when every account is asking for one that uses numbers, symbols, and capital letters – and also telling you never to reuse a password.  As a managed IT services company, we have dozens of users and thousands of passwords, we feel the pain more than most.   Despite the headache, we’re still huge fans of strong passwords, because it definitely beats the alternative.

While it’s challenging, there are ways to build memorable passwords that are both secure and memorable.

Here are a few tips to build a memorable password.

#1 – The Passphrase

When the word “password” was first used, it probably made sense.  But when you sign up for an account, and Google suggests you use jjNkvGg@B^p!, it’s probably a bit too generous to call that a “word.”  Words just don’t meet password complexity requirements.

But sentences do.  They have at least 10 characters (well, most of them do).  They have punctuation. And they have capital letters.  The only thing you may need to do to make a sentence meet the requirements is to squeeze a numeral into it.  This led to the idea of a passphrase, which uses a phrase or sentence for your password.

The great part is that you don’t need to “build” a passphrase.  Just pick a phrase that’s relevant to you – and not relevant to anyone else.  A good example would be a funny comment your spouse made during a memorable event in your life.  A bad passphrase would be “2B or not 2B, that is the question.”  That one is probably being used by at least 50 people right now. It’s probably also on a hacker’s list of guessable passphrases.

#2 – Password as Memory Aid

Is there something in your life that you are trying to commit to memory?   Is there something you want to make sure you think about regularly?  One way to kill two birds with one stone is to build a password out of it!

For instance, if you’re trying to memorize a bible verse you could build a password that includes the first letters of each word and a reference to the book, chapter and verse where it is located.  You could use a similar technique with song lyrics, a motivational quote or even a reminder to prepare for a major upcoming event.

#3 – Use a TriBond

Have you ever played the game where someone names three words and you have to figure out what they have in common?  The 1990 board game based on this was called Tribonds.

It’s also a great way to make a password.  Pick three words that share something in common and then describe what they have in common in one word.  Put a symbol between each of these four words, capitalize them and you have a password.  Just make sure not to pick something that somebody could guess based on public information – for instance, don’t use the names of your family members, or the last three cities you lived in.