Unlucky to Eat Glue on a Monday

Today I’m going to share with you a technique that I developed for remembering hard to guess passwords. If you are like me you probably have accounts on dozens of websites, all of them needing a username and a password. One way to deal with this problem is to use the same password for all of them, but this gives you very poor security because if one if compromised all your accounts are vulnerable. Even worse is to have different passwords for each account but to write them all down, maybe in a file called passwords.txt. Don’t laugh, some people really do that.

So if you can’t remember them all and writing them is risky what are you supposed to do? Well one way is to exploit the way the memory in your brain works. Most people think memorizing things is difficult. This is not true. All sorts of stuff goes into your memory; the problem is retrieving it later because you need some sort of key that recalls a whole block of memories. You ever noticed how one song or picture can trigger the recall of a flood of childhood memories?

You can exploit this characteristic of your memory to recall difficult to guess passwords like “iut3goam”, which at eight characters and mixed letters/numbers is strong enough for normal use. The trick is to think up some arbitrary and unlikely phrase like “It’s unlucky to eat glue on a Monday”. Which may well be true, but it doesn’t matter. Take the initial letters of these words to make iutegoam” and then maybe “mung”, as they say, some of the letters into numbers.

At this point you can have a little note where you write not the password or even the phrase but just one word that will recall the whole phrase. Just “glue” will probably be enough. The word Glue triggers the memory of the phrase, and then from that you can reconstruct the whole password.

It’s important to choose phrases that are not well known otherwise your note will also trigger the same memory in other people. Choose instead total nonsense or perhaps something you recall from long ago that people can't find easily by googling your keyword.


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