Anyone out there with mild to severe paranoia or OCD will especially appreciate this post. This one’s for you, guys.
When it comes to passwords, there are 3 kinds of people in this world: people who use the same password for every account, people who can’t remember their multiple passwords, and lastly, there are people who have their sh*t together.
Which person are you? Which person do you want to be?
There was a time when I was person number one. After news of scary hackers (Target, anyone? JP Morgan?) and my slight but innate sense of paranoia (thanks to my military father, no doubt) got the best of me and I swiftly became person number two. Eventually the inefficiency of forgotten passwords became too much, so I developed a kick-ass unique password remembering system.
Allow me to enlighten you. By following the three steps below, you too can become a person who has their sh*t together.
Do this in an excel or word document (I recommend creating a tab for each category in excel then listing associated accounts in each categorized tab… and yes, on a scale of zero to neurotic, I may or may not live somewhere around an 8):
o Determine a streamlined username for each category (i.e. firstname_home, firstname_health, firstname_finance, etc.)
o It’s possible that you will need to create a few unique usernames that don’t follow your username system because of system constraints (i.e. must use a number, must be more than x characters, must be less than y characters, must use email address) but try your best to stay as streamlined as possible!
o Create an “anchor”
o Use account names for the second half of each password
So in this example, my wells fargo account login info would be as follows:
Congratulations! You have now become person number three. Proudayou.
Keep a running document to stay organized, but do NOT explicitly write down the passwords for each account in this document… that would defeat the entire purpose of your new kick-ass system. All it would take is for one lucky snoop to find that password-laden doc on your computer and 10 minutes later, your life = dominated.
What you can include are hints.
In the Excel document that we created in step 1 (the doc with tabs dedicated to each category) write the account names, usernames (including those that are unique like Account C below), and the password anchor:
|ACCOUNT NAME||USERNAME||PW HINT|
When saving this document, make sure to name it something discrete but memorable – don’t call it “PASSWORDS” – you’re smarter than that.
NOTE: The above examples (i.e. firstname_account, P^SSW0RD, etc.) are not what I use as my own usernames/passwords. These examples are only meant to be inspirational and to encourage you to create your own systems. If you are tempted to use the above examples to log into any of my personal accounts, you will be sorely disappointed when you are unsuccessful. I too, am smarter than that.
PS If you are a tech-expert and have any critiques/suggestion for this system, please let me know! I am by no means an expert hacker or techie so I am extremely open to input – comment or tweet me @keeping_change