Most of the time, to have a password that is secure, you use a password manager software. You have the password manager make a unique password for each and every web site or account. You have it make a password that is random, very difficult to type, and as many characters as the website will allow. The password manager will then paste the password into the login page. You never need to know what the password is, and you never type it.

The rules we’ve all been taught for year, to make a “secure” password, result in passwords that are hard to type, hard to remember, and are easy for hackers to guess. Hackers know those simple rules, too. And hackers have lists of the top milion most-used passwords.

You have to either use a password manager, or make a memorable 5-7 word pass-phrase, to have a secure password.

When Would You Type A Password?

You might have to type WiFi passwords without using your password keeper, for example on your new phone, or to connect your printer to your WiFi.

Basically, you type a password only in those few cases where you can’t use your password manager. You can’t use your password manager to type in the WiFi password into the phone, because you can’t connect to your password manager until you have entered the WiFi password to connect to the Internet.

You need to type in the password for your computer, before you can access your password manager.

You also might want to connect a friend’s or house mate’s computer to your WiFi, so you can get them set up using a password keeper. You want your WiFi password easy to type, for this scenario, but not highly memorable.

If you are setting up your Internet router or cable modem, you’ll have to type in the password. Then you can use the password manager to store all the router settings. Most password managers have places for storing notes, and keeping everything encrypted.

What About Those Pesky Keyboards?

The keyboards on mobile phones, and on device panels (for example, your printer), are quite difficult to use for most computer-generated passwords.

These keyboards make typing random characters even harder, since you have to change from the uppercase keyboard to the special character keyboard to the lowercase keyboard to the numeric keyboard.

You might find that your WiFi or your printer won’t accept a long enough password to make a password phrase from 4-5 long words. One common length is maximum of 63 characters for a WiFi password. If your hardware is wimpy about security, you might have to make a secure password using computer generated characters.

You should change your passwords occasionally (twice a year might be a good frequency), or if you think someone shouldn’t be using your WiFi any more. If you suspect or know someone has broken into your WiFi or computer, change the password right away. You might be able, depending on your hardware, to copy/paste the old password and new password; but you might have to type it.

How to make passwords that are fairly easy to type, yet highly secure

If you group the characters by which keyboard they are on (uppercase, lowercase, etc), they will be easier to type, and easier to say to yourself or the other person you are giving the password to.

Use KeePass, a free password generator with the ability to specify patterns of characters, to generate a password with groups of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, punctuation. (Most password generators do not have this feature, including LastPass.) Or you can use your current password generator to generate several short passwords, each from characters all on the same keyboard, and paste them together to make a long password.

KeePass can use a pattern to generate the password, that is easy to type on phone keyboards. An example l{8}u{4}l{4}d{4}l{8}d{4}s would make a password with 8 lowercase letters, then 4 uppercase letters, then 4 lowercase, then 4 digits, then 8 lowercase, then 4 digits, then 1 special character.

You make your own pattern, specifying the number of uppercase, lowercase, digits, and special characters. For most people, 4 or 5 characters at a time are easy to remember long enough to type, or 8 characters is two easy groups of 4.

I’m now using LastPass for my passwords, but I still have KeePass on my computer for generating those passwords I know I would need to type.

Should You Use a Special Character?

To have KeePass generate a printable 7-bit special character, one of !”#$%&'()*+,-./:;<=>?@[\]^_`{|}~, add a lowercase ‘s’ in the pattern. To use 4 of them, use s{4} in the pattern.

If you prefer, you can simply pick a special character you will always use. Most people would put the special character at the end; or pick some place you always put it such as after the 4th character. Always use a special character in every password, since so many web sites and WiFi routers require one. If you always use one you won’t have to remember.

In KeePass, do not click the Advanced button and enable “Exclude look-alike characters”, since you will know whether it is O or 0, l or 1 (that’s an oh, zero, lowercase el, one) by the pattern.

For all the KeePass pattern options, see https://keepass.info/help/base/pwgenerator.html#pattern

 

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