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“Something you’ll never forget:” Experts new recommendations for picking a secure password

MILWAUKEE -- Do you have trouble keeping track of all your passwords? You're in good company. However, if cyber security companies follow some new recommendations, passwords could get a lot easier to remember.

These days it seems like passwords have a lot of complicated requirements.

Mark Zimmer

"We have lots of passwords to remember and as they get more complex it's harder for us to remember all those," said Michael Zimmer, an associate professor at UW-Milwaukee.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to ditch complicated passwords. It says they're actually making us less secure.

"We tend to use the same password over and over again, or we just make a change to a password. We add an extra number or we add a number two instead of the number one, and that's easy for hackers to try to break into," Zimmer explained.

Frank Frassetto

The new recommendation is to create a long pass phrase that's easy for you to remember rather than using complicated words made up of random characters. Experts recommend things unique to you like listing places you've visited or cars you've driven.

"Something from your childhood. Something you'll never forget," recommended Frank Frassetto of Wisconsin Department of Consumer Protection. "Take some random words, cotton, mouth, elbow, toe."

The DATCP says when choosing a password:

  • Don't recycle, because it can risk multiple accounts
  • Don't use personal information like your name, birthday or social security number
  • Don't use sequential numbers or repetitive numbers
  • Don't pick a security questions that can easily answered by others

"Just having something with a little bit of uniqueness is the best way to go," Zimmer recommended.