How many accounts would you estimate are linked to your email address or mobile phone number? For many people, their initial count might look like this: a social media profile or two; a bank account and credit card; and perhaps a handful of store loyalty and membership cards.
But according to Dashlane, a popular consumer password manager app, we’re probably way off the final total. On average in the U.S., Dashlane estimates that one email address is linked to a whopping 130 online accounts. By 2020, this ratio is expected to reach one address for every 200 accounts. It’s no wonder, then, that the average inbox annually receives almost 40 reset-my-password instruction emails.
Nonetheless, passwords are an everyday function, and strong passwords are a necessity. (Be sure to revisit this post, which outlines the latest NIST best practices and recommendations for creating ironclad passwords.) But creating a strong password often needs a spark of inspiration, especially if it’s also going to stick in your mind.
The Logic in Neologisms
Whether you’re taking an escalator or a staycation, both options have something in common: they’re neologisms. Definition-wise, neologisms include any newly coined word or phrase, with many popular creations being the combination of two existing words (escalate + elevator = escalator).
Combining two or more of your favorite people, places, or things can build a strong, memorable password. For instance, if your go-to food is pizza, your dream destination is Paris, and your best friend’s name is Jane, pizzaParisJane can easily transform into p1zz@Pari$J@ne.
Make It a Game of Chance…
If a roll of the dice is more your style, you could introduce an element of chance into building passwords. The Diceware method, as described by the IT security firm Panda Security, “generates completely random passwords – which are very strong and secure – by rolling a dice and a list of words.” Using this method could be as simple as writing down a list of six words corresponding to the six sides of a single die, or experimenting with a more elaborate system.
…or Pattern It on a Game of Sudoku
If you’re more of a numbers person, Panda Security also a details a creative method that combines a group of Sudoku squares and the shape of the pattern used to unlock your smartphone. Start by making the same movement your finger makes on your phone’s screen on the squares. Then, make note of the numbers your finger passes through. “The numbers that you’ve just traced over will form the basis for your password, which you can add some letters and symbols to,” they explain.
Travel the World for a New Password, Without Leaving Home
Some of us, though, remember passwords best when we can associate it to a specific place. But relying on easily identifiable information like your hometown or where you attended school could create a weak password. Enter Google Maps. Zooming in can ignite new travel plans and be the basis for a unique and meaningful password.
For example, let’s say you’ve always wanted to travel to the Arctic, so you zoom in on Greenland. Your eye catches the name of a village on the west coast: Kangerlussuaq. You immediately find this name memorable, and it becomes the foundation for building a password phrase that has meaning for you. A hacker might take a long time to crack “Kangerlussuaq has no kangaroos”, but it instantly appears in your mind each time you’re logging in.