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DURBAN - Just about any web service in use today requires an account user name and a password. In the past two columns I’ve explained how you can add additional security by using multi-factor authentication (MFA). When this isn’t an option, choose a secure password and never use the same password across multiple accounts.

Memorable: If you use a password manager app to store your passwords you won’t have to memorise them, as most have an auto-fill feature that provides your password and other account information. They can also generate secure passwords.

You may occasionally want to create a password that is easy to remember, yet still secure enough to resist automated hacking attempts. I have two methods for creating easy-to-recall passwords that follow the typical security requirements of being at least eight characters long and including at least 3 of the following character types: upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.

The traditional method is to substitute numbers for letters or vice versa (5 for S, 3 instead of E, etc). In addition, you can substitute words for numbers. Combine these methods in the password (0ne, thr33, f0ur). Add random capital letters (thr33Tr4ins) and, finally, use special punctuation characters or keyboard symbols. The result, thr33Tr4!ns, is hard to guess, even with automated hacking technology.

My second method is especially helpful when memorability is vital. The basic premise is to use something secret that you already remember, and turn it into a password. So, for example, you could use the lyrics of a favourite song: something like The Beatles’ “We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine” might make a password of Waliays,ays,ays. When you need to type the password, you simply “sing it” in your head.

Any song or statement you can recall would work well. You can of course combine both methods and create passwords from songs that also have substituted letters, etc. Written down, these secure passwords often look really awkward, but they are not difficult to memorise as long as you know the secret source song or phrase.

Solutions: Keep track of passwords and more with a password manager. There are several well-known password manager apps and they all work in a pretty similar way, keeping a secure record of multiple user names and passwords, credit card details, addresses and similar bits of text that you might find yourself entering regularly on various web forms. All you have to do to unlock your password manager and reveal your saved passwords, is enter a single master password, which is a bit like the key to your password “vault”.

For several years I recommended the free version of LastPass from www.lastpass.com. LastPass remains an excellent solution, but more recently I have been using Dashlane from www.dashlane.com. In both the password database is encrypted and protected using the master password chosen during installation. Both support Windows and Mac systems and popular smartphones. A more detailed review of password managers can be found at http://tinyurl.com/cnetpmreview

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