Do you have trouble remembering the different passwords for all the different sites that you visit? Here’s a tip to create a unique password for each site, and remember what it is.

Question mark lapel pin

Question mark lapel pin

As you know it’s important to have a good password. But it’s difficult to have a different password for every site. It’s tempting to reuse your password, but imagine someone hacking your gmail account, grabbing your password and using that same password to hack into your bank account. Some people have a “main” password that they vary a bit to create a slightly different password. The trouble is that it’s difficult to remember all those different variants, so they have to resort to writing the passwords on an old-fashioned bit of paper, or the electronic equivalent.

This is a tip that I learnt from Lifehacker. It may sound complicated, but it’s simpler than it sounds. It gives you a method to generate a different password for each site but in such a way that you shouldn’t need to write it down.

  • Take a favourite word of at least 4 letters. You can make this as simple or complicated as you like. Our example will be lampwork
  • Choose a special character, for example an asterisk (*), an at sign (@), or an exclamation mark (!). Attach your special character to the end of your word, giving you your base word which will always be a part of your password. We’re going to use the dollar sign, giving us our base word: lampwork$
  • The next step is to generate the site-specific part of the password which will be added after the special character. You need a simple method to generate the site-specific letters. Let’s use this pattern: take the first three consonants of the name of the site, followed by the first vowel. Add these letters to the end of your base word giving you your password.
  • This will give us lampwork$fcba for Facebook, lampwork$gglo for Google, lampwork$mzna for Amazon, and lampwork$wrdo for WordPress. Each site has a unique password, and you have an easy way to remember what it is.

Of course you can (and should) modify the idea. Instead of a real word in the first step, use a combination of letters, eg “asdf” which are next to each other on the keyboard. Add one or two numbers to your base word. Leave out the special character. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters for the site-specific part. You get the idea.

Some sites have their own rules about passwords, which may get in the way of your password generator method. Some don’t allow special characters, while others limit the number of characters. (As an aside: I hate sites that put these sort of restrictions on passwords. It’s my password.) So you may have to modify your rule slightly. And yeah, you may have to note those differences somewhere, but this tip will work for most websites.

I’ve been using this idea for the last couple of years now, and it works really well. So, thanks Lifehacker! Leave a comment if you have an another method to secure your passwords, or if you thought this was a useful tip.


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