Password Cipher

Summary

John Graham-Cumming wrote about the concept of using a local and printed cipher as a means of reliably creating and keeping passwords for websites. This idea is simple to implement, but takes some explaining.

By incorporating a physical cipher for password generation and recall, you ensure:

  • You will never lose a password (assuming you're consistent in it's generation).
  • Ensure that every site you have a password saved on will be different from all others - thereby eliminating the risk of polluting a common password if one site is compromised.
  • It doesn't depend on any piece of software - and can easily be brought with you to use at work, home, on your cellphone or any other device.
  • It ensures passwords that are truly random. It doesn't care about your birthday or first pet - and enforces the use of all available characters.
  • It can be easily integrated into a password manager. Generate your passwords with the cipher, then enter them into your manager for fast recall.

Each time you load this page a new random assortment of lower-case letters, upper-case letters, numbers and symbols are put onto an easy to read grid with both axis containing letters. In it's simplest form, you may take a website (say, "amazon.com") and decide to use the first two letters of the name "A" along the x-axis and "M" along the y-axis. From here, you can create and store your password by counting x number of characters to the right. You may quickly create more secure passwords - even if the cipher is publicly available by adding in any of the additional measures:

  • Use any random (but consistent) two letters of the domain (second letter and last, for example).
  • Assuming you've chosen the second and last letters in the domain, you can offset them in the alphabet to something even less distinguishable. In the amazon.com example, using the second and last letter ("M" and "N"), you can offset the x-axis by 3 positive letter values and the y-axis by 5 negative letter values resulting in the x-axis of "P" and the y-axis with "I".
  • The complexity of the password recall is as ambitious as you are patient. You can easily recall the first character in your password, but the pattern to retrieve the next characters is up to you. Horizontal forward, horizontal backward, vertical, diagonal, in a spiral or with some algebraic equation. It's all up to you - and the more complex, the safer your passwords become.
  • This method is only valuable if the creation and recall are absolutely consistent. That being said, a consistent password length is required. It's up to you to decide how long your passwords need to be - but the longer the better.

There are many possibilities - and as long as you are consistent in how you store / retrieve your passwords, it's pretty bullet-proof (albeit tedious). Although the cipher should ideally be of little significance without the pattern of use - it's advised to retain some level of privacy with it (as in, not posting the actual cipher you use online).

This page creates and spits out the ciphers. Nothing is stored, nothing is tracked. Print preview will display a page that has no description and prints three different ciphers - one for your wallet or purse, one for your desk and one for backup. As the cipher is different with each page load, the one you print will be absolutely unique and irreplaceable, so be sure to keep the copies safe once you begin using them! Also be aware that the random values generated on this page are not cryptographically secure, but rely on a simple random number generator.

Don't trust using your passwords from a random site? I wouldn't either. You may download, edit and re-use it as you see fit, according to the Creative Commons Attribute 3.0 License.

Wallet-Sized

Random cipher to be used as a general password seed.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A S F 3 " [ 1 7 $ b 5 # a B 7 , { = G ( : W e # ^ X P A
B & 2 w S E % = , # 8 T F H V < f V w # N j V ) { N C B
C , m d P 3 ) d [ y H Y i z x & ) 3 j A X o - ) \ v | C
D I b * - D 0 / H k X n o H L V , T + p v 2 * E } B T D
E ! g G , < ^ / $ X y I S 6 T b ( 8 J p o B 0 > R ; X E
F v v L W ^ i 4 h a Y - / x G s 7 [ = l \ 3 ) v ( / X F
G N ; b E O w Z ] ( B . H I / , q } q X h - H : / t T G
H $ P x 8 " @ Y a b " w 2 [ b } * J w # C N 2 S > 9 B H
I E 1 w Y f < ~ D 4 " a n " c m v 4 > w S % 7 ^ M / o I
J ~ N l 9 % Q u ? a A . a 4 W ~ 5 ! " 7 - u w ) Q % T J
K i P , d 5 : Q & Z r s _ o t g h u 0 4 t A A s , j M K
L p } | ; I " G A b ? s R $ * 9 , X - l 5 ; G z T 1 Z L
M _ ( S ; r 9 ( g Y n e : N g } 6 X 2 J s U . b 7 X : M
N " = L Y J r D } i U W { 1 h a 6 " O @ \ f v O P N / N
O J P 1 , G Y & ( i l > M ~ e , W : S 4 : k 2 F + O L O
P d } { Q - w , I p y , : c b d " N d c G Z / ] p ] < P
Q & r * r 3 _ f P x { # p v { O o ) Q q = P 5 \ S > L Q
R M + 1 y * D P U U d A 1 T Y N r $ 0 f n = ] 5 a 9 g R
S 5 U Z 2 , ? I T w l = @ 7 E ^ . ; v R E N q ~ S E = S
T E < = " b O T 1 b M Y K : _ W ^ S o f t i > P Z A } T
U ^ z H g j @ b , 0 d H p 4 J 2 o ) T < C u N R A 8 Z U
V w i k X > \ = D , , b / ] @ ? s \ 1 2 O ^ H . ! 0 o V
W k m O * @ @ \ + u = 9 e n 1 > o U + ] R a # e 3 m ) W
X < f Q 5 t 1 * 9 E O F r w 1 a ; 6 n R 2 C ? J o P K X
Y \ U " ~ z . e & Y y D C . 8 * z ] ~ ] ] ; R ~ H e B Y
Z F O P + [ C B - B 1 & G D B 6 7 4 Y A G = l G 0 > x Z

Primary

Random cipher to be used as a general password seed.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A S F 3 " [ 1 7 $ b 5 # a B 7 , { = G ( : W e # ^ X P A
B & 2 w S E % = , # 8 T F H V < f V w # N j V ) { N C B
C , m d P 3 ) d [ y H Y i z x & ) 3 j A X o - ) \ v | C
D I b * - D 0 / H k X n o H L V , T + p v 2 * E } B T D
E ! g G , < ^ / $ X y I S 6 T b ( 8 J p o B 0 > R ; X E
F v v L W ^ i 4 h a Y - / x G s 7 [ = l \ 3 ) v ( / X F
G N ; b E O w Z ] ( B . H I / , q } q X h - H : / t T G
H $ P x 8 " @ Y a b " w 2 [ b } * J w # C N 2 S > 9 B H
I E 1 w Y f < ~ D 4 " a n " c m v 4 > w S % 7 ^ M / o I
J ~ N l 9 % Q u ? a A . a 4 W ~ 5 ! " 7 - u w ) Q % T J
K i P , d 5 : Q & Z r s _ o t g h u 0 4 t A A s , j M K
L p } | ; I " G A b ? s R $ * 9 , X - l 5 ; G z T 1 Z L
M _ ( S ; r 9 ( g Y n e : N g } 6 X 2 J s U . b 7 X : M
N " = L Y J r D } i U W { 1 h a 6 " O @ \ f v O P N / N
O J P 1 , G Y & ( i l > M ~ e , W : S 4 : k 2 F + O L O
P d } { Q - w , I p y , : c b d " N d c G Z / ] p ] < P
Q & r * r 3 _ f P x { # p v { O o ) Q q = P 5 \ S > L Q
R M + 1 y * D P U U d A 1 T Y N r $ 0 f n = ] 5 a 9 g R
S 5 U Z 2 , ? I T w l = @ 7 E ^ . ; v R E N q ~ S E = S
T E < = " b O T 1 b M Y K : _ W ^ S o f t i > P Z A } T
U ^ z H g j @ b , 0 d H p 4 J 2 o ) T < C u N R A 8 Z U
V w i k X > \ = D , , b / ] @ ? s \ 1 2 O ^ H . ! 0 o V
W k m O * @ @ \ + u = 9 e n 1 > o U + ] R a # e 3 m ) W
X < f Q 5 t 1 * 9 E O F r w 1 a ; 6 n R 2 C ? J o P K X
Y \ U " ~ z . e & Y y D C . 8 * z ] ~ ] ] ; R ~ H e B Y
Z F O P + [ C B - B 1 & G D B 6 7 4 Y A G = l G 0 > x Z

Backup

Random cipher to be used as a general password seed.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A S F 3 " [ 1 7 $ b 5 # a B 7 , { = G ( : W e # ^ X P A
B & 2 w S E % = , # 8 T F H V < f V w # N j V ) { N C B
C , m d P 3 ) d [ y H Y i z x & ) 3 j A X o - ) \ v | C
D I b * - D 0 / H k X n o H L V , T + p v 2 * E } B T D
E ! g G , < ^ / $ X y I S 6 T b ( 8 J p o B 0 > R ; X E
F v v L W ^ i 4 h a Y - / x G s 7 [ = l \ 3 ) v ( / X F
G N ; b E O w Z ] ( B . H I / , q } q X h - H : / t T G
H $ P x 8 " @ Y a b " w 2 [ b } * J w # C N 2 S > 9 B H
I E 1 w Y f < ~ D 4 " a n " c m v 4 > w S % 7 ^ M / o I
J ~ N l 9 % Q u ? a A . a 4 W ~ 5 ! " 7 - u w ) Q % T J
K i P , d 5 : Q & Z r s _ o t g h u 0 4 t A A s , j M K
L p } | ; I " G A b ? s R $ * 9 , X - l 5 ; G z T 1 Z L
M _ ( S ; r 9 ( g Y n e : N g } 6 X 2 J s U . b 7 X : M
N " = L Y J r D } i U W { 1 h a 6 " O @ \ f v O P N / N
O J P 1 , G Y & ( i l > M ~ e , W : S 4 : k 2 F + O L O
P d } { Q - w , I p y , : c b d " N d c G Z / ] p ] < P
Q & r * r 3 _ f P x { # p v { O o ) Q q = P 5 \ S > L Q
R M + 1 y * D P U U d A 1 T Y N r $ 0 f n = ] 5 a 9 g R
S 5 U Z 2 , ? I T w l = @ 7 E ^ . ; v R E N q ~ S E = S
T E < = " b O T 1 b M Y K : _ W ^ S o f t i > P Z A } T
U ^ z H g j @ b , 0 d H p 4 J 2 o ) T < C u N R A 8 Z U
V w i k X > \ = D , , b / ] @ ? s \ 1 2 O ^ H . ! 0 o V
W k m O * @ @ \ + u = 9 e n 1 > o U + ] R a # e 3 m ) W
X < f Q 5 t 1 * 9 E O F r w 1 a ; 6 n R 2 C ? J o P K X
Y \ U " ~ z . e & Y y D C . 8 * z ] ~ ] ] ; R ~ H e B Y
Z F O P + [ C B - B 1 & G D B 6 7 4 Y A G = l G 0 > x Z
Creative Commons Attributionion 3.0 License

This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License