The Secret To A Secure Password Is... Poetry?

Coming up with a password — whether it be for your phone, your Facebook account, or your online banking profile — is one of the most frustrating tasks in the technological world. Either you're told your password isn't strong enough and you add a bunch of symbols you end up forgetting, or you use the same password you've had since first grade and your account ends up getting hacked. So how do you create a secure password that you'll actually remember? Happily, it looks like a solution may be in sight. Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed poetry-based passwords that are virtually unhackable.

Cybersecurity is a very real threat. In a recent survey of things Americans fear the most, two of the top 10 fears were related to technology-based crimes. A good password will halt most cyber attacks in their tracks, though. So what makes for a secure one? In a word: binary. The USC researchers state that "a highly secure password is a 60-character sequence consisting of 1s and 0s." A password like this would take over 11 years to crack, and at that point, I would seriously hope a hacker would find something better to do.

Of course, no one is expecting you to memorize a Tweet's worth of binary code, so the researchers also tried to develop a way to mentally connect this code with language. The tricky part was determining how to translate binary into something that someone could actually remember.

The key was to translate the binary into English, but the question still remained about what those words should be. Researchers tested three different approaches: The "All Letter Method," which creates a basic sentence, the "Frequency Method," which creates a sentence using short words, and the "Poetry Method," which creates a password using "rhyming iambic tetrameter couplets."

Somewhat surprisingly, the most effective method when it came to both password strength and capacity for memorization was the Poetry Method. So, using this method, the USC researchers created a password generator that will provide you with the most high-tech and secure passwords. I tested out the generator to see what kind of poetic ridiculousness it would suggest, and it's ... well, a lot more fun than a password probably should be. Here are a few of the ideas it had for my cyber security. (It goes without saying that you shouldn't actually use any of these passwords now that they're all over the Internet, right?)


"The anchor simply Kosovo or patterns modern studio"

I feel like I could get used to this one. It sounds like The Killers lyrics.


"Assuming border Institute an office revenues recruit"

This one is a bit more dubious, like a message that would be on a tape recorder in a James Bond movie.


"A classic overlooked involve degrees or exercise evolve"

This password has a bit of an angsty teen vibe to it. Righteous!

As you can see, the poetry password generator doesn't exactly create Pulitzer-worthy lines of verse, so don't expect it to write your midterm essay for you. It does, however, provide some totally randomized, and therefore highly secure, password inspiration. Say goodbye to "pAzzWerd123" and say hello to "Beware of rusty permeates, the aging boilers celebrates."

Moral of the story: Your English major might actually be aiding you in the creation of a virtual fortress.

Images: Pexels; Giphy (2)