So, you’ve made the decision to sign up for a password manager — success! But now you have another challenge in front you: creating your master password. It’s going to be the only password you have to remember from here, so it better be great. And by great, we mean strong, yet it also has to be something you can actually remember. Sounds like finding a needle in a haystack, right?
It doesn’t have to be though. In fact, it can actually be fun to come up with your master password. Contrary to popular belief, the best passwords don’t contain a zillion numbers, symbols, and random letters because that makes it truly impossible to remember. Hence, defeating the purpose of your master password.
Rather, the best way to put together your master password is to use a passphrase. Not something everyone would recognize, but a long string of words and characters that only make sense to you. For example, tonY$growleR$venT$15. It has no meaning to anyone and if it’s the only password you have to remember, you can definitely commit it to memory. There are a few reasons that passphrases make the best passwords:
- They’re long in length, usually at least 20 characters
- They’re completely random
- They use real words, so you can actually remember it
Together, these make passphrase passwords much harder for someone else — a bot or hacker – to guess or crack. And because they use real words, these passphrases can actually be fun to come up with so get creative with it! But before we even get started, forget every other password you’ve ever created. This master password that you’ll use to unlock ALL of your accounts must be unique! No ifs, ands, or buts – do not reuse a password, or portion of a password that you use elsewhere.
Now that we have that part covered, let’s get to the fun part. When seen together, the words of your passphrase shouldn’t make sense, but individually they could mean something to you, or be based on something to help you recall them. Let’s say you want your passphrase to be 5 words. Come up with five attributes about where you are right now to apply to you passphrase. For example:
- The color of your shoes
- What’s outside the window on your right
- Your mood
- What you’re excited for
- Your next vacation
That could lead to something like: tealbrickpumpedlunchskiing
That’s a pretty long passphrase and while it’s created with somewhat of a formula, it’s not something another person could guess and the answers are subjective. I say teal, you say green. I say brick, you say windows. The formula allows you to help recall each word, but allows provides for randomness that makes it hard to crack.
Now, we need to increase the strength of the phrase with a few uppercase letters, characters, and numbers. Don’t go too crazy, you still have to remember it.
How about: Teal2brick!PumpedLunch$kiing
Complex, yes, but after you type it out a few times, your fingers will get the hang of it, and voila, you have a strong new master password! Not too painful right? Hopefully now you don’t feel too overwhelmed by the task of creating your master password. Make it long, unique, and random — and have a little fun with it — and you’ll be much better off than you probably are right now. If you already have a master password and want to update yours, just head to Account Settings from your vault to change it.