Use Word Association To Create Secure Password Hints

Whether you use a password management system like Lastpass or not, sometimes you just need help remembering your password. Lifehacker reader Chispea recommends using word association to tailor your password hints to your unique brain.

Chispea explains her password creation method:

If the clue is "Lasagna shindig," the first word reminds me of the root "garfield." If my standard letter replacement is a=4, e=3, and i=!, the root becomes "g4rf!3ld." Shindig is the fourth Firefly episode, so I also capitalise the fourth letter and the final password would be "g4rF!3ld." Even if someone gets ahold of my clue list, I doubt they'll be able to get from there to the actual password.

It may be a bit less secure than the method we've recommended in our guides to secure password creation, but it's still a good tip that can be applied to any system. Even our method starts with a base of English words that get turned into super secure gibberish, but if you want to make sure you have a good password hint — whether because the site in question supplies it as an option or as something you jot down for later on — word association is a way to make sure other people don't quite figure it out. Seriously, who else could follow the same train of thought from the word "Shindig" to capitalising the fourth letter of the password? It's something specific to your experiences and way of thinking, so your hint is useful to you and no one else. Got any of your own tips for securely remembering complicated password systems? Share them in the comments.


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