We’ve all heard that changing passwords on a regular basis is important for online safety. Cyber thieves can steal our identity by guessing simple passwords or passwords that go stale sitting in the “remember me” box on various accounts. But have you ever thought of doubling the functionality of passwords by using them not only to protect yourself, but also to improve your life?
That’s what Mauricio Estrella, a contributing writer for TODAY, asked himself. He soon found a way that passwords could be used to rewire the way that people think.
Estrella’s work forced the employees to change their password every 30 days. This password had frustrating restrictions much like ones I’m sure you encounter. It had to have at least one capitalized letter, one lowercase letter, one symbol, one number, had to be over eight characters long and couldn’t be anything they’d used prior.
The first time he was prompted to change his password following a divorce, he let rage help change his life. Estrella said that he knew he couldn’t get his work done while he was still so furious at his ex. To offset this anger, he changed his password to “Forgive@h3r” knowing that reminding himself to change his attitude multiple times a day would be the only way to truly make a change.
Every day he typed the password into his device more than once and every day, more than once, he was reminded of his goal. These constant reminders helped him to accept what had happened.
He then decided to put this new, empowering tool to another test. He changed his password again to “Quit@ smoking4ever.” While painful, he admitted to quitting overnight.
Here at my company, ATS Secured, I am asked daily to think about doing things differently. Everyone here is always asking “what if?” or “wouldn’t it be cool…?” This is exactly the kind of problem solving we applaud. Usually when encountered with a reoccurring annoyance or problem, turning it on its head is the best way to improve the situation.
The concept of using passwords to remind ourselves of those things we want to achieve or conquer is a revolutionary one. It takes something that we already have to remember, something that we have trouble remembering at times and turns it into something that reminds us of who we want to be.
Not only does this method work to make our lives better, but also it is proven to generate better, more secure passwords. During a TED Talk given by Lorrie Faith Cranor entitled “What’s Wrong with Your Pa$$word,” she mentioned a study found that phrases are more difficult to hack and easier for people to remember.
The Password Possibilities Are Endless
This technique could help to solve various problems in anyone’s life; the possibilities are limited only by the person’s ability to think of problems. It is incredible to think that, instead of avoiding the things that frustrate us, we would actually be searching for those issues. In two years, Estrella used “password therapy” to help him save for a trip to Thailand, get to sleep before midnight, ask someone out on a date, not drink alcohol for two months, spend time with his mother every Sunday and, my favorite, save for an engagement ring.
Check out another Cyber Security post: “Death of a Password”