Strong Passwords For Dummies

If you’re the kind of person who wants to use really strong passwords but you’ve a memory like a sieve, then PasswordCard might be for you.

It’s a credit card-sized set of random characters with symbols along the top and coloured bars which you keep handy in your wallet (or phone).

So how does it work?  First of all, set yourself a standard for the length of the passwords, say 8, and direction, say right-to-left.

Let’s say you want a password for a music web site.  Look along the top until you find the musical note symbol and then decide on a colour – yellow in this case.  You go down to the yellow row and then start reading 8 characters from right-to-left.  In this case it would be “cNKmSzNv”.

Anytime you return to the music site, all you have to remember is “note-yellow”, whip out the card and bang, you’ve got your strong password.  Note….yellow….right-to-left….8 letters.

Your bank could be “dollar-green”, social web site “smiley-yellow”, email “star-white” and so on.  Much easier to remember those two combinations than eight letters of gibberish.  There’s an option to generate a card with a PIN area, i.e. numbers only.

Each PasswordCard is different so there’s a unique number that you need to keep safe in case you need to regenerate it.  Personally, I’d save the .jpg in multiple locations and print out a copy for a safety deposit box.

The brilliance of the PasswordCard is that even if a nefarious individual does get hold of the card, without knowing the symbol-colour combination, the direction of read and the number of characters, it’s nearly impossible to make use of it.

It’s also low tech, incredibly cheap and easily replaceable – perfect if you are going to be travelling and you are worried about theft.

Comments

  1. Ed says

    Not so. If I know you use $ green for your bank, if I got your keycard it would only take a short time to try out 6-10 characters going right or left, since I know most password systems require 6 characters, and most people are too lazy to go beyond 10 (actually 7 or 8) characters.

    The only way this card would stop a determined cracker is for the user to make random (not patterned) movements right/left/up/down — which defeats the simplicity of the system. Still, one could try to brute force it using the limited character set on the card (shortening the brute force approach by many hours).

    The other problem is the card does not include numbers and symbols in every possible symbol color position, which some strong password systems require — making the user move away from their easily remembered symbol/color/direction choice and creating more lost/forgotten password issues.

    Nice try — but this is only an illusion of safety. Anytime you write a password down, even within a group of other supposedly random characters, it helps a determined cracker. Might stop the lazy script kiddies and the uninformed if you keep the card totally safe, but that’s about it.