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What’s Your Pass-phrase?

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Worried about how secure your net passwords really are? Here’s a simple two-step way to create passwords no hacker can touch.

Do you use the same or similar passwords for several sites? Yes, you do. (You’re not the only one.) Most, like you, don’t change their passwords. God forbid, if one of your accounts is hacked, are the others safe? There’s a good chance you’ll find a few passwords in your email accounts, either because you’ve mailed them to yourself or because a website emailed your password when you registered and/or when you forgot it.

Under the circumstances, if an e-miscreant breaks into one of your email accounts, the fellow can access all your internet accounts. Scared? Here’s why you needn’t be, and what you should do. While scouring the internet, this writer discovered a technique to create passwords that are near impossible to crack, and easy to remember too. Interested? Good.

Let’s start with an original and memorable phrase. Let us use two sentences I’ve come up with: ‘I like to watch animals at the airport’ and ‘My first girlfriend was a real bitch so I replaced her with a Harley’. Obviously, the phrase can have something to do with your life or it can be a random collection of words. Whatever it is, just make sure it’s something you can recall. 

Next: turn your phrase into an acronym. Be sure to use some numbers, symbols and capital letters too. ‘I like to watch animals…’ becomes [email protected], and ‘My first girlfriend…’, MfgWaRbsIrhWah. That’s it. We’re done.

Such passwords created out of ‘pass-phrases’ are, for a number of personal reasons, hard to forget. You can even get ingenious and string together ‘pass-phrases’, say, for specific months. Case in point: ‘It’s the best month to come to Chennai’ (ItbM2c2Ch) can be your ‘pass-phrase’ for gmail.com in December. Or even something like ‘Jesus Christ! X’mas is coming!’ (jCxiC!).

All said and done, you’ll need to come up with, perhaps, four or five such personal ‘pass-phrases’ every once in a while. A little extra effort, maybe, but not all that much when you consider how much is at stake.