Could your online password get hacked in less than a minute? Keep it secure with these hacks

Sep 18, 2019.

We all know that we should spend time creating secure passwords, but it's one of those things that we know is important but we tend to put off to think about later. In this sense, it's a lot like going for a run or eating healthy!

One study found that almost a third of passwords created by customers of an online bookstore could be cracked in less than a minute. Only 0.8% couldn’t be cracked, all of which were complex passwords of more than ten characters. It's clear we need better passwords, but it's so difficult to remember long strings of random characters. This calls for some password hacks!


The first trick to know is how to construct a memorable password that may as well be gibberish to anyone else. We like this method:

  • 1. Create a memorable ten-plus word sentence.
  • 2. Write down the first letter of each word.
  • 3. Replace some of those letters with numbers or symbols. For instance, “1” for “l” or “$” for “s”.


You’ll never remember that password directly, but that’s okay—you can unlock it with your memorable sentence.


If you have lots of passwords, you might still need some help. Fortunately, many web browsers such as Safari and Chrome can securely store your passwords and the sites you use them on, so you can enter passwords with just a tap. Or, if you need to remember passwords for things besides websites, apps such as 1Password will do a similar job. Most of these browser and app-based password managers will even suggest secure passwords for you, but they might not be as memorable as ones you make up yourself.
Of course, if you’re going to be storing all of your passwords on your computer or phone, you’ll need to secure the device itself. First, that means using something like the sentence method to lock them with secure passwords. Then, if available, set up fingerprint or face ID for added security and convenience.


Alternatively, you could do what Professor Angela Sasse, director of the UK Research Institute in Science of Cyber Security, recommends: write your passwords down. That’s right—writing down complicated passwords is far safer than not writing down simple passwords, especially if you hide them away.


If only running and healthy eating were that easy to hack