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Can I Guess Your Password?

We all know that it's dangerous to use the same password for more than one program. If you sign up for a program run by someone of low moral fibre, what is to stop them running through various programs with your username and password to see what they can access?

But of course remembering all the different passwords can be a headache. And writing them down somewhere isn't a great deal safer than using the same password again and again.

You can buy software that stores the passwords for you, but do you really want to pay money for another piece of software that performs a solitary function?

Try this simple, two-step, technique that lets you generate an infinite number of passwords, without having to remember any of them.

Step One: Choose a 4-6 letter word or number sequence that you can remember easily. Needless to say, don't reveal this to anyone. For the purpose of this demonstration, I'll choose the word "cash"

Step Two: Apply this secret word or number sequence to the name of the program you are setting up the password for.

To accomplish this, invent a couple of easy to remember rules.

Rule 1: Decide which part of the program name you are going to use. It could be the whole name, the first 6 letters of the name, the last 8 letters of the name. It's totally up to you, be as creative as you like.

eg ? For the program TrafficSwarm, I might choose the first 8 letters of the name. This give me: "traffics"

Rule 2: Take the portion of the program name you have selected and merge it with your secret word or number sequence to create a unique password. Again, be as creative as you can with this rule. You could replace every second letter, every third letter, every vowel or every consonant.

eg ? If I replace every second letter of "traffics" with my secret word "cash", I get " t c a a f s c h "

or

- If I replace every vowel of "traffics" with my secret word "cash", I get " t r c f f a c s ". The "s" and the "h" are not used as "traffics" has only two vowels, but some words will use all four letters of "cash". Some words might have more than four vowels, in which case just start back at the beginning with "c" and "a" and so on?

You don't have to worry about making your rules overly complex. Even the best code-breakers would need to see several of your passwords before they could start to guess what you rules are.

As long as you keep your rules safe and sound, your password is secure. But the real beauty of this system, is that you don't have to remember the passwords you create. You ONLY have to remember the rules.

When you log into the program the next time, just apply your rules to the program name, and you can work out what password you generated. Once you have been using the rules for a while, you'll generate the password in your head, without even having to pause.

Don't worry if it seems a little complicated at first. Read this article through a couple more times and then try this technique with just a couple of programs. Once you are happy with it, all that's left to do is to start working your way through existing programs and update your passwords. It's time consuming, but for peace of mind you'll be glad you did.

David Congreave is owner of The Nettle Ezine, the newsletter for the home business -- online. David lives in Leeds, in the United Kingdom, with his wife Leanne.

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