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How Can I Remember Passwords?

Passwords can be written in a notebook and hidden in a safe place.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Most of us have probably experienced times when the only thing standing between ourselves and an important transaction was our failure to remember a password. Computers, automated banking machines, point-of-sale card scanners and dozens of other electronic devices all depend on alphanumerical passwords for additional security. The problem is that remembering which ones belong to which devices can be extremely frustrating. There are several ways to remember passwords, however, including mnemonic devices, personal references and word associations.

One method many people use to remember passwords is personal references. Whenever someone has the option of creating a personalized password, it is often easier to select numbers or letters with personal significance. Four digit codes, for instance, could be a former street address or phone number. Using current personal information in codes is usually discouraged by security experts, but people rarely forget numbers from their past. If the password must be numerical, then you should mentally associate it with your personal history.

The same holds true for alphabetic passwords. The words used should hold some personal meaning, such as the name of a beloved pet or favorite relative. It could also be a nickname from your childhood or a character from a favorite book. The point is to form an association between the password and personal information only you would know readily. Hackers may do some research into their victim's personal lives, so it may not be a good idea to use things like a current spouse or child's name.

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Another way to remember passwords is to create a mnemonic device. If you've been issued a password with random numbers and letters, you need to create an easily remembered phrase, even if it makes no sense aloud. If one of your passwords is SN23K, for example, you may think "Sid Needs 23 Keys" or something equally memorable. Those containing random numbers could be remembered as word puzzles. A series of numbers such as 1231144 could be remembers as 'The apostles needed a whole month to a gross of eggs'. It may sound silly, but you'll always remember 12 apostles, 31 days in a month, and 144 eggs in a gross.

Sometimes passwords are recognizable by their patterns. Numerical codes such as 1357 or 2468 are easier to remember than random ones such as 2719. Muscle memory can also help people remember their most commonly used passwords. Logging into a personal computer, for example, requires the same password every time. Eventually, your fingers will recognize that pattern of keystrokes even if you have difficulty recalling it mentally. Picture a keyboard or a numerical pad in your mind and allow your fingers to recreate these familiar patterns.

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