Tiny tech tip #5: your password pattern is dangerous

Everyone knows not to use the same password for multiple sites, because passwords get leaked, and then you’ve given unscrupulous types the keys to all your accounts.

However, what people don’t seem to realise is that having a password system, whereby you invent a formula for what the password for any given site will be, is often just as bad.

Let’s take the brilliant Darryl Whitefeather from Crazy Ex Girlfriend as an example (side note: BEST. SHOW. EVER):

In one scene, Darryl is giving White Josh the passwords to his streaming accounts. His baby is called Hebby (Hebecca…), so the passwords go “HebbyBebbyNetflix,” “HebbyBebbyHulu” and so on.

That’s obviously an exaggerated version of a password system, but people do use similar ones. It’s easy to see why: it’s technically a different password for each site, and it means you can remember what your password for any given site will be.

However, the flaw is that if you can figure out the pattern, a fraudster likely can too. If they get hold of one of just one of your passwords from a leak (and it happens to everyone — check here), they could still be able to figure out how to get into all your other accounts.

Obviously, the ideal here is to not use a password system at all — to have randomly-generated passwords and a password manager to input them for you. But, yes, that’s annoying. So if you are going to have a system, try to make it REALLY obscure so that when a Bad Egg is looking at your Netflix password, they can’t see the pattern (‘NX’ is a bit of a giveaway, for example).

Even better, put two-factor authentication (that’s the thing where you also need a code) on all your accounts. That way, even with the password, rotten eggs can’t get in and watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend (again, best show) on your dime.

Main image: Mikhail Nilov from Pexels . Gifs: Giphy.

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