The Search For The Perfect Password

A password graphic i i

Experts say that creating an ideal password involves creating one that is at least eight characters long and includes letters, numbers and symbols. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com
A password graphic

Experts say that creating an ideal password involves creating one that is at least eight characters long and includes letters, numbers and symbols.

iStockphoto.com

Read the All Tech Considered blog, where Omar Gallaga, who covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman, has more on creating the perfect password.

One problem that plagues all of our increasingly Web-based lives is the curse of online passwords.

We have to use them for everything from e-mail and Netflix to accessing credit card statements and other financial information.

How do you actually keep track of all those bizarre combinations of letters and numbers we're forced to come up with every day?

Multiple Passwords

Having one user name and password for all the sites you access is a very bad idea, as is making your password any word that can be found in the dictionary, Omar Gallaga, who covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman, tells NPR host Michele Norris.

The ideal password is at least eight characters long — preferably 14 or 15 — and includes letters in both lowercase and uppercase, and also contains numbers and symbols. Of course, good luck remembering all those passwords.

It's important to have a functional system for remembering your passwords. If you're not using software or hardware to keep track of them, you could deal with all your passwords by using mnemonics, for example. You could make a password out of "Omar talks to NPR on Mondays" that ended up being "0t2NpR0M$," substituting the "O for a zero, the "to" for the number 2, lowercasing some letters and making the letter "s" a dollar sign. It's not perfect, but it's better than any word you'd find in the dictionary, or the old 1,2,3,4,5 PIN number.

The last thing you want to do is to use your login name as your password or to use family information, such as dates of birth. It's also not a good idea to write your passwords on a Post-it and stick it on your desk in plain sight.

Password Software

The average user has between five and seven logins and passwords to remember, says Nick Forcier, CEO of Large Software, a company that makes software called Password Manager for Windows. He says the solution is to use software that can keep track of them all, and can also generate stronger passwords.

Paper Trail

Some people also feel better writing them all down and putting the paper in a safe deposit box. Of course, that won't help you remember them on a day-to-day basis, but it at least can be passed on to a spouse or family member in the event something happens and they need access to your most important accounts.

Independent producer Skye Rohde contributed to this report.

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