Non-dictionary passwords users can remember

This tip was submitted to the searchSecurity Tip Exchange by user Richard A. Davis. Let other users know how useful it is by rating the tip below.

There are many good password-creation ideas already presented here on searchSecurity, and I would like to add one I have used for years with success.

Tell the user to:
1) Open a yellow-pages phone book or a magazine to a random page.
2) Close you eyes, and point to the page. Note the word nearest your finger.
3) Close your eyes again, flip to another random page, and point to the page. Again, note the word closest to your finger.
4) Take the first syllable or two of the first word, and combine it with the last syllable or two of the second word. You may even choose to tack on the last digit of the page number of the second word or a character from the top row of the keyboard.
5) You now have a nonsense word that appears in no dictionary and is next to impossible to guess.

The first time I had someone do this, the first word was in a display ad for a photography studio. The second word was in a garden center advertisement. The resulting password was PHOTOHOSE. The user loved it!

P.S. A Palm OS program will do something similar, called WORDBOX. It is available in multiple languages and comes up with some great random-but-pronounceable passwords.

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This was first published in October 2001

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