Researchers at the University of Southern California have uncovered a clever way to increase cyber security creating passwords that are as easy to remember as they are secure. Instead of taking a common word and replacing letters with numbers, which is easy to hack, or creating a random string of characters, which is secure but difficult to remember, the researchers suggest turning to a random poem generator as a way to create secure yet memorable passwords.
The mechanics behind so-called “passpoems” is that these passwords are made up of random words that have been fashioned into a short rhyming verse. More specifically, a poem generator creates random 60-bit strings that are then permuted into a million potential poems. The program’s language processing software then picks the poem that most closely mimics actual language from among the million permuted “passpoems.”
Although “passpoems” are incredibly difficult to hack, they’re also designed to be easy to remember. The psychology of this type of password is that it plays on our ability to remember language; particularly when it rhymes. While it’s difficult to create a mnemonic to remember strings of random characters, it’s easy to create a memorable meaning for a rhyming poem – even if the randomly-generated words seem nonsensical.
It’s important to keep in mind that this technique uses random rhyming words to create a verse rather than relying on lines from pre-existing poems, which would make for a less secure password. The researchers also caution that, due to their length, poetry-based passwords won’t be allowed on all sites. Nevertheless, they’re a highly useful and secure way to keep your private information protected.