Love how versatile this unicorn is.
Love how versatile this unicorn is.

There’s been another data breach.

This time, according to Milwaukee security firm Hold Security, Russian hackers managed to snag something like 1.2 billion user name-password sets and 500 million e-mail addresses. One of these is probably mine.

You know what this means. (I can see that you do. You are already sighing and murmuring, “Do I have to? I thought I just left this party.”) You must change your passwords. Again.

It would not be so bad having to come up with a perfectly secure, perfectly memorable password if you had to do it only once. But it is never just once. No sooner have you caught this unicorn than someone breaches everything all over again, and you have to start from scratch. And it is harder and harder to find virgins willing to sit under trees in the woods singing softly. They tend to have fuller schedules than that, what with having to appear in all those horror movies.

But coming up with a new password is not even the hardest part. And it’s pretty $@#%ing hard. (Hey! “$@#%ing” would probably be a secure password!) It’s remembering it after you’ve picked it. “$@#%ing” is only as secure as your recollection. And I can barely recollect the single password I had from the very beginning and used for everything. That is just how my memory is. It is very monogamous.

Here are some tips. Instead of fighting your memory, admit its limitations.

• Associate the new password with a vivid embarrassment from your early years.
• Have someone on the Internet insult you by calling you your password. I find that there is nothing easier to remember than mean things total strangers have said about you on the Internet.
• Set your password to the tune of a song you were forced to learn in elementary school.
• Make your password an item of pointless celebrity trivia. (These, invariably, are the only things I remember. The names of people to whom I have just been introduced? Gone, obviously. Anything anyone has ever told me about which snakes and mushrooms are dangerous and whether it is illegal to turn right on red? Also vanished entirely. But “Chaotic” with Britney and K-Fed remains etched forever in my mind.)
• Come up with a visual mnemonic for your password. I can vouch for this method. Once, someone told my high school about a visual mnemonic for remembering the original 13 states. You were supposed to visualize a cow (I think there was a cow) standing on something (I can’t remember what, maybe a roller skate?) and also “Connecticut.” Maybe the cow was singing? Or wearing a hat? Is Vermont one of the original 13? So that was really helpful is what I’m getting at. Try that.
• Make a recording of your new password and play it to yourself as you fall asleep, “Brave New World”-style.
• Get a tattoo of your new password somewhere that you can see but no one else can. Plan a large and intricate design, keeping in mind that you will probably have to change it soon.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.