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Making Passwords for small form factor devices

I nag a lot about how you should use long random passwords. Never repeat passwords. But this is horrible advice if you are forced to enter those passwords into small form factor devices like phones and touch screen tablets. If you can't copy and paste your passwords, then that option simply doesn't work.


How can you make pretty good passwords that are easy to enter on your phone or tablet?

Start with 2 words that refer somehow to the place you are going. Say you are Jane and you want to check into your netflix account on your phone. So, we could use Jane and Netflix as the two words. Now we pad it. At this point, look at your phone's keyboard and see characters that are easy to type. Choose one symbol and one numeral.


You are Jane and you want to login to Netflix on your phone or tablet.
Makeup 2 words and have at least one capital Jane Netflix
Check your phone and select 1 symbol and one numeral that are easy to type on your keyboard # 7
Repeat each one 4 times and merge the two items together Jane####Netflix7777

You now have a password that is easy to type, not too hard to remember and pretty solid. You won't find it in a dictionary. It is very hard to guess. and by padding the two words with 8 characters you have made it impossible to break with a brute force attack.

If a hacker could break JaneNetflix in 1 minute, then by adding the 8 characters of padding we turn that 1 minute into over 3 billion years. By that time, the value would probably have diminished.

This assumes that there are 18 symbols on some phones that can be typed easily. So, 52 characters, 10 numerals, and 18 symbols make 80 possible characters. Adding 8 more to a password makes it 1,677,721,600,000,000 times as hard to crack which will turn 1 minute of cracking time into over 3 billion years.

Date: December 2011

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