Quick Tips: Remembering Complex Passwords


This XKCD comic notes a popular strategy to password security, using a series of words rather than a single word with special characters. But is this the best way to come up with a secure password that you can remember? Depending on what you create, the password may still not be very secure if it is low in complexity and the words you chose include common words like “password” or “umass”.

But remembering random letters and numbers is difficult, and might cause you to find yourself writing down passwords or forgetting them entirely. Another strategy is to come up with a phrase of words, like “correct horse battery staple”, but then only use certain letters. If you only think of the phrase in your head, and then use something like the first letter and last letter of each word, you keep the ease of remembering a simple phrase, but now have “cthebyse” in your password. Adding some special characters to this will make a very strong password.

Longer passwords are even better, so if you can come up with a scheme like this for a long phrase, your password will be even stronger. “Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow” is easy to remember, and the first letter of each word produces “mhallifwwas”.

You won’t find this in a dictionary attack, and recalling this complex string as you type it out is as easy as remembering the lyrics in your head. Just make sure you add any special character and case requirements to the password, and you’re good to go!

Monroe, Randall. “Xkcd: Password Strength.” Xkcd: Password Strength. N.p., n.d. Web.
…..17 Nov. 2016.