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Can someone suggest a good technique that is as simple to remember as possible but can help one remember a set of passwords for different sites? I don't want to have to spend too much time mentally decoding the password from some scheme.

Furthermore, it should be possible for me to let others know some of the passwords, without enabling them to guess the others (even if they happen to visit this very page).

I am willing to change my current passwords for the same, but I'd obviously prefer if your scheme allows me to select a word/phrase I would personally remember, as part of the password.

Note: I do not want to use a password manager because:

  • I can't just tell someone the password to some account, I have to take the trouble of finding it, noting it down, and then passing it on.
  • I won't be surprised if the software fails to work on some device, in which case I'll have to manually fill in complicated passwords. The idea of using passwords I can't even remember doesn't feel like a good one personally, maybe that's just a trust issue. I don't want to have to depend on some software remaining free and competent while it stores all my unknown passwords.

closed as off-topic by Captain Obvious, L.B., Chenmunka, holroy, MrPhooky Apr 13 '17 at 10:00

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Does not seem to need a life hack — A "life hack" is a seemingly intractable problem that can be solved by thinking outside the box. Unfortunately, everyday "How to…" questions about learning a craft or new skill are outside the scope of this site. See about Lifehacks. If the author can show how this needs an "outside the box" solution, edit and 'flag' to reopen." – Captain Obvious, L.B., Chenmunka, holroy, MrPhooky
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • P.S. I'm new to this site. I tried looking for tags like password, memory, code, etc. Couldn't find any, hence pls help with tagging as well. – ghosts_in_the_code Apr 7 '17 at 12:57
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    Your requirement on having other passwords to be 'unguessable' based on knowing one or more effectively eliminates having a single (or small set) of words/phrases as a possibility. – Matt Balent Apr 7 '17 at 17:33
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    Data security SE, Cryptography SE and Bitcoin SE are all likely to provide better answers than Lifehacks SE. – k-l Apr 7 '17 at 19:17
  • Do remember that for most passwords, TOS or other agreements mandate you never share it… – StarWeaver Apr 7 '17 at 21:45
  • I recommend you to use a password manager software, like enpass or lastpass. The majority of this kind of software gives you the option to share selected passwords with other people. I think it's a more secure and efficient way to achieve what you want. – Fabio Silva Apr 8 '17 at 0:53
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Having a secure password isn't that hard actually! You just need a long password. Note -- Long does not have to mean complicated. Imagine you can make a password containing only characters of the english alphabet in lower case, A longer password can still take multiple times the lifetime of the universe to crack using current technology. The reason for this is that as you increase the length of the password, you increase the number of possible guesses a user has to make before they find yours. For example, see how the number of possible passwords increases below

  • 1 Char -- 26 possible password (26)
  • 2 Chars -- 262 possible passwords (676)
  • 3 Chars -- 263 possible passwords (17576)
  • 4 Chars -- 264 possible passwords (456976)
  • 5 Chars -- 265 possible passwords (11881376)
  • 6 Chars -- 266 possible passwords (308915776)

This of course should be understood in context -- Guessing 300 million passwords for a human would be prohibitively impossible. Ain't nobody got time fo' dat. That said, In about 15 minutes, I could program my computer to guess a few thousand passwords a second and have it cracked in a month. If I just add one more letter to that, it would take 26 months. Add a few more letters to that it would take a longer time than I care to calculate.

As Always, Relevant XKCD Further Reading

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  • Thanks. How do I select the words such they are unique for each site, and yet not 'interguessable' by others? (Without of course, having to memorise 20-30 random words) – ghosts_in_the_code Apr 7 '17 at 15:23
  • I know creating secure passwords is easy, focus here is on easy to remember – ghosts_in_the_code Apr 7 '17 at 15:26
  • Your requirement on having other passwords to be 'unguessable' based on knowing one or more effectively eliminates having a single (or small set) of words/phrases as a possibility. – Matt Balent Apr 7 '17 at 17:33
  • Your math is a little off, considering CaPiTaL letters double the size of the alphabet from 26 to 52. However, people frequently use English words rather than gibberish letter combinations. So having a 6-character password almost certainly doesn't mean there are 52^6 possibilities - or at least the hacker could check for English words first before checking random 6-letter strings like "rgzmwq" or even "aaaaaa", significantly cutting down the time needed to hack. – BrettFromLA Apr 7 '17 at 23:14
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The problem with passwords is that as soon as you have a lot, you will forget which was which, even if you have a scheme for remembering them

Let's imagine you have three credit cards & need to come up with some mnemonic to recall which password is for which account.

MoneyDollar$Exch4nge might be a good fit for one of them... but which one?

Am3xMyCard - OK, so we've put the name of the institution in there to give us a hint... but now we're giving clues as to how we name for each site.

GloopyOpaque might work to remember the first two characters of the site name, but you now have to either remember all 26 words & the pattern involved in applying them... or write them down.

staple horse batter.. ermm.. horse staple right... correct horse... ermm... staples office supplies... battery stable hors... I give up

The only sensible way to do it is to use a password manager.
You come up with a single difficult password to open it & the rest is remembered for you.
You keep copies of the database elsewhere, encrypted.
You encrypt your boot drive, also keeping an encrypted backup elsewhere - and maintain it.

You let the computer pick a password for each site - computers can make up hideously complex passwords... and remember them, so you don't have to.

  • Ive made a note regarding the idea; please see the question. – ghosts_in_the_code Apr 8 '17 at 11:05
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    Well, kinda difficult to guess that you're going to employ a late caveat. This answer goes in the bin, then... Bet it's what you end up doing, if you don't want them written down anywhere, & bear in mind your phone & your compy can carry the same data-set these days. & the idea that you want to 'share' some passwords is utter folly. – Tetsujin Apr 8 '17 at 11:09
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I thought up how to remember my bank password by making it one in a series which is not easy to find for others but works for me.

I use an other series of words but have used this one for an explanation before.

A series of two words and one or more numbers. Word one, name of a tree, word two fruit of a different tree. Number, the one that I associate with the tree or fruit, often because of a sound in the word that reminds me of that number or because of that number being related to either the tree or the fruit. Like the number of my grandparents house with the tree the street was named for.

To make it easy to remember for you, the words can/should be associated with the subject of the site you need the password for.
So a computer parts site can use passwords build out of computer parts. Your bank site can be kinds of money or words you associate with banking or money.

What makes this work is that they are words and numbers you associate with the site or the activity you do on the site. But you use words which are at least one step away from the site and you can change them (as some sites require) to the next one in your personal list.
So going back to the trees, if in your mind you always start with apples, followed by oranges, mangos and grapes in that order, you can easily remember which is the next in the list.

If you need passworths to alike sites or bank cards or whatevers, sit down and look for details that stand out for you. Like colours or main features in the print/design. Even better if the sign in screen stands out for you.

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I just came up with a fun option, because I like thinking about stuff like this. You could decide on a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Make each word meaningful to you. Then, for each website, take the first 2 or 3 letters of the website name, and use your words that correspond with those 2-3 letters for the password for that site.

For example, let's say you will use the first 2 letters of a website. The password for Twitter would be made up of the word you picked for "t" and the word you picked for "w". If you picked "teeth" and "walrus", the password for that site would be "TeethWalrus". The password for your Google account could be "GlowingOrange".

There are a bunch of variations you could do to make it harder to guess.

  • Capitalize the first and last letters: "TeethwalruS" and "GlowingorangE".
  • Figure out how many letters are in each of the words, and add that number after each word: "Teeth5walruS6" and "Glowing7orangE6".
  • After the first word, add the number of letters in that word. After the second word, press SHIFT before typing the number. "Teeth5walruS^" and "Glowing7orangE%".
  • Instead of using the first and second letter of the websites, use the second and third letter of the website. That would mean the words for Twitter would be "w" and "i", maybe "Walrus" + "Itch", and the words for Google would be "o" and "o", so "Orange" and "Orange".
  • Use the first and third letters of the website name.
  • Use the second and fourth letters.
  • Capitalize the second-to-last letter.
  • Etc.

It would all rely on coming up with a word for each letter of the alphabet that you would remember, and then coming up with a pattern that you always use.

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    All those options are insecure, they are not random enough. – k-l Apr 7 '17 at 21:22
  • @Kiran If you use 3-4 words instead of 2, it should work – ghosts_in_the_code Apr 8 '17 at 9:10
  • @ghosts_in_the_code Thanks! That's a good idea to use 3 or 4 words instead of just 2. I understand Kiran's point about randomness, but nothing random is easy to memorize. That's why I chose to use PERSONAL things (words that have meaning to YOU and no one else), rather than random things. PERSONAL things are really hard for anyone to guess, unless they know you really well. – BrettFromLA Apr 8 '17 at 19:02
  • @BrettFromLA I also made the remark that I should be able to share my passwords. – ghosts_in_the_code Apr 9 '17 at 4:27
  • Use a similar system as well; each letter of the alphabet has a specific X length word which I use in a pattern for all sites based on a set variable; such as the example you provided first and last letter of the domain; or what not. Then I have a capitalization pattern for the first, and second word, you can also throw in a number inbetween; static, or use symbols. Very effective. – McFlySoHigh Jun 6 '17 at 14:07

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