Network Security: A Password Generator

How do you generate a secure password that no one can guess but that you can remember? Most network security experts say that the best passwords don’t correspond to any words in the English language, but they consist of a random sequence of letters, numbers, and special characters.

Yet, how in the heck are you supposed to memorize a password like Dks4%DJ2? Especially when you have to change it three weeks later to something like 3pQ&X(d8.

Here’s a compromise solution that enables you to create secure but memorable passwords. Take your favorite book and turn to any page at random. Find the first four- or five-letter word on the page. Suppose that word is When. Then repeat the process to find another four- or five-letter word; say you pick the word Most the second time. Now combine the words to make your password: WhenMost.

You have to agree that WhenMost is easier to remember than 3PQ&X(D8 and is probably just about as hard to guess. The folks at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory probably shouldn’t be using this scheme, but it’s good enough for most networks.

Here are some additional thoughts on concocting passwords from your favorite book:

  • If the words end up being the same, pick another word. And pick different words if the combination seems too commonplace, such as WestWind or FootBall.

  • For an interesting variation, insert the page numbers on which you found both words either before or after the words. For example: 135Into376Cat or 87Tree288Wing. The resulting password will be a little harder to remember, but you’ll have a password worthy of a Dan Brown novel.

  • To further confuse your friends and enemies, use medieval passwords by picking words from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Chaucer is a great source for passwords because he lived before the days of word processors with spell-checkers.

    He wrote seyd instead of said, gret instead of great, and litel instead of little. And he used lots of seven-letter and eight-letter words suitable for passwords, such as glotenye (gluttony), benygne (benign), and opynyoun (opinion). And he got As in English.

  • If you use any of these password schemes and someone breaks into your network, don’t blame me. You’re the one who’s too lazy to memorize D#Sc$h4@bb3xaz5.

  • If you do decide to go with passwords such as KdI22UR3xdkL, you can find random password generators on the Internet. Just go to a search engine, such as Google), and search for password generator. You can find web pages that generate random passwords based on supplied criteria, such as length, whether it should include letters, numbers, punctuation, uppercase and lowercase letters, and so on.