Be Your Own Password Generator

Dec 12, 2019 Cryptography,
Illustration: Hachibu

Illustration: Hachibu

Have you ever thought about becoming your own password generator?

Imagine if I actually knew your answer. Currently, I can’t possibly know your answer because it’s encrypted into the folds of that gray Jell-O salad floating inside of your head. But maybe someday Elon Musk will get Neuralink working and rhetorical questions will become a thing of the past.

What is a password?

A password is a secret that you can use to protect access to your stuff.

What makes a password strong?

A strong password should be hard for other people and computers to guess. That’s pretty abstract, so let’s imagine what makes a password easy to guess. It’s probably short, contains just lowercase letters, and is a dictionary word. (e.g. password) Given these 3 shortcomings, we can now imagine what a strong password looks like. It’s probably long, contains a variety of characters and is randomly ordered. (e.g. $rNdu%*MoR5q2JEx5uMnK73WN^PoByd&)

How can I be my own password generator?

You’re already a password generator. You’ve probably been generating passwords for a while now. My personal password journey might sound familiar to you.

  • 1990s: Create a single password for everything. (e.g. hotdog84)
  • 2000s: Create your own system for generating passwords. (e.g. twitterhotdog84, gmailhotdog84)
  • 2010s: Use a computer to generate passwords.

Well now that Skynet has all of your passwords, how can you take control back from the AI overlords who seek to enslave us?

At a high-level, you need to create a system that results in a random number, letter, or symbol and repeat it over and over again until you have enough characters for a strong password.

This hypothetical system could be as simple as flipping to a random page in a book and selecting a random character or it could be as complicated as flipping to a random page in a random book in a random library in a random country and I think you get the point.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the resources to travel the world visiting random libraries creating passwords like a character out of a Dan Brown novel. So, I’ve created a lazier way to generate passwords by using myself as the source of randomness.

Keep in mind, this is a toy and you should definitely keep using your password manager’s built-in password generator. Your password manager is probably using random numbers generated by your operating system and approved by the NSA.

Click here to try it out.

I’d also like to challenge you to create your own system for generating passwords. You know, in case of the AI apocalypse. Please make it as silly and convoluted as possible and share it with me on Twitter.

2019-2020, Hachibu.