Creating Passwords that are Bulletproof

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with IDTheftSecurity.com Inc

It can be a real hassle to keep track of the passwords you use. So many people use the same combination of username and password for every account. However, this isn’t a good idea. In fact, it’s terrible. You see, these days, many data breaches could be traced back to people using the same password across multiple accounts. And once the bad guy finds his way in, especially logging into your email, it is game over. From there, it’s easy to reset the pass code for almost all of your accounts when the bad guy controls your email too.

All it takes is a cracker to find this password, and now every account you have is compromised. And finding that password is even easier. Some studies show as many as 40 billion records were compromised in 2021. Many of those records are passwords. At ProtectNowLLC.com, we have a tool that has access to over 12 billion compromised records where you can search your username aka your email address to find out if your username and associated password have been compromised on a variety of breached accounts.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution: use a password manager. I’ve had a password manager in place since 2004. At this point I probably have close to 700 different online accounts. And I might know the password for maybe five of them. The rest, only my password manager knows the password which I can easily look up. But I’ve never committed them to memory. Most people say “what if the password manager gets hacked” while this might be a valid concern, it’s not a concern of mine.

The low hanging fruit isn’t a password manager getting hacked, it’s people reusing the same passcode across multiple accounts and those credentials being available on the dark web. But, if you don’t want to use a password manager because you’re afraid the password manager is going to get hacked, you can also do the following:

Creating a Unique Password

Research shows that the best passwords are 14 characters long. Those that are shorter than that are easier to figure out. If a site doesn’t let you create a password that is 14 characters, it is possible to adapt it. Password managers do a very good job of creating/generating long strong unique complicated passcodes.

First, make a list of all of the sites you have a username and password for, and then put those sites into categories. For example, all of your sites for social media would be in a category, all of your email sites together, all of your banking sites together, and all of your shopping sites together.

Then you want to create a password that is eight characters. This will serve as the first part of any other password that you create. For example, the first eight

characters might look like this:

CM&@t*yZ

Next, remember your categories? You will create a three-character password that is significant to those. For instance:

  • Social media sites – SM#
  • Email sites - &eM
  • Shopping sites - $h0
  • Banking sites – 8aN

So, this gives you 11 characters of the recommended 14-character password that you want to use. Now, you need three more characters, and that would be specific to the site.  So, let’s say you are creating a password for your bank. This is made up like the following:

Eight-character + three-character password (category) + three-character (site)

So, for your bank, it would look like this:

CM&@t*yZ8aNp$X

This is a very difficult password to guess, and for many people, easier to remember. But it’s not easy for everyone to remember. There is a solution, but first, keep this in mind. When you have to change your password, you can keep the final six characters and just change the first eight.

Now, how can you remember the first part of the password? One way to do this is to simply write it down and store it in a safe place. However, don’t keep it near your computer. Another thing you can do is to create a phrase that will help you remember.

Here’s an example. Let’s say our phrase is “My brother asked me for bread and salt.” If you take the first letter for all of the words, it would be this:

MBAMFBAS

This could be your eight-character first part…and you can make it more secure by making some swaps:

M3@MFBA$

This still makes the password very difficult for a hacker to guess but makes it easier for you to remember. You can use the same method, of course, for the smaller parts of the password.

Honestly, if you’ve got even this far in this article, congratulations to you. You must be some weird math savant with an elephants memory. Frankly, the above gives me a headache. Like I said in the first three paragraphs, it’s best to just use a password manager and forget all of this work, but if you don’t want to, this method works pretty well.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Comments (14)

Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Robert, we all need bulletproof passwords, and I don't have the same on any log in, and SO hard to remember!  

Feb 03, 2022 08:47 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Robert - thanks for those suggestions.  It seems there is a line between remembering passwords and being secure.

Feb 03, 2022 08:59 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Robert- I'm not a math savant, but I did read the whole post and tried to follow along when you discussed how to create a unique password. That's way too complicated for me. I agree...a password manager is probably the best route to go. 

Feb 03, 2022 06:45 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Great post, Robert. I have a password manage for years, but will need to beef up my usage of it.

Feb 04, 2022 05:03 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Carol Williams good morning, Carol... my suggestion for Second Chance Saturday post. This is something all of us need to be more vigilant about.

Feb 04, 2022 05:04 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Good point. We do need to ensure our passwords are bullet-proof and/or use a tool that does it for us.

Feb 05, 2022 05:11 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Robert. Read the whole post and am sure I only absorbed a part of it. Thank you. Enjoy your day.

Feb 05, 2022 05:38 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

I don't have any repeat passwords but this is a great system to beef up what I am already doing.

Feb 05, 2022 04:57 PM
Peter Mohylsky
PMI. Destin - Miramar Beach, FL

Thanks for sharing , great stuff. 

Feb 06, 2022 05:26 AM
Anthony Kirlew
Group 46:10 Network @ eXp Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Helping You Make Fiscally Sound Choices

Great advice! I would add that using two factor authentication (i.e. receiving a text with a special code) is also a great idea to use for extra added protection on the sites that utilize this feature.

Feb 06, 2022 08:33 PM
AndreaBFerreira CRS - SRS - CLHMS
Keyes Co. - Davie, FL
Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County in FL

Great recommendations, I see a way to improve mine. Thank

Feb 08, 2022 09:24 AM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty Evolution - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Robert Siciliano Good post. I think most of us have the password issue. I'll look into a password manager.

Feb 08, 2022 09:55 AM
Danny Frank
JLA Realty - Houston, TX
The Pearland Real Estate Expert

I have been using LASTPASS for about 4 years.. I love it.. I change my master password at least once a quarter. 

Feb 10, 2022 01:04 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great information.  Thanks for sharing and enjoy your week!

Mar 21, 2022 07:35 AM