Root passwords and Administrator passwords: Too simple, and you expose the security of the whole machine. Too complex and (if you’re like me) you forget them. With the number of passwords we all need to retain now, what do you do?
A greybeard Unix admin once let me in on the answer to that question, and I’m going to tell you now.
Start with a three word pattern. Anything that a peurile mind like mine will retain. For example, let’s use the phrase Peet’s Coffee and Tea. Bin the and, so you have:
Peets Coffee Tea
Get the first two characters of each word and bung them together, and you get:
Add some other characters to your mental password generator, like this:
Exactly how you transform a phrase into a password is up to you, and should be kept secret. Sharing a new password then becomes easy because you can verbally give your colleagues a phrase that they can remember:
“Hey Bob, I changed the root password”
“Yeah, it’s not the coffee one, it’s Zombie Flesh Eaters”.
Job done. I once had to disclose a password to a man that had been the subject of an uncomplimentary three letter phrase. That wasn’t good. Try to keep it impersonal.