This paper is in the following e-collection/theme issue:


Advertisement: Preregister now for the Medicine 2.0 Congress

Article Thumbnail
Members can download this full article for Adobe PDF Format.
Membership provides unlimited access to all PDF files.
Or, ask your department head to become an institutional member.

For tax purposes please select your country and if applicable state/province of residence:
Buy Now (Pay-per-download for non-members):
Download Price (USD): $22.00


How to Create Memorizable and Strong Passwords

Pietro Cipresso1,2, MSc, PhD; Andrea Gaggioli1,2, MPsych, PhD; Silvia Serino1,2, MPsych; Sergio Cipresso3; Giuseppe Riva1,2, MA, MPsych, PhD

1Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Lab, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milano, Italy
2Psychology Department, Catholic University of Milan, Milano, Italy
3Freelancer, Milan, Italy

Corresponding Author:
Pietro Cipresso, MSc, PhD

Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Lab
IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano
Via Pellizza da Volpedo 41
Milano, 20149
Phone: 39 61911 ext 2892
Fax: 39 619112892

(J Med Internet Res 2012;14(1):e10)


Privacy; security; passwords; psychology

How to Create Memorizable and Strong Passwords

In a recent JMIR article, El Emam, Moreau and Jonker highlight the importance of using strong passwords to protect personal health information in clinical trials [1]. An important implication that was not fully discussed is the potential problem people may have to create passwords that are complex but at the same time easy to remember.

To address this problem we propose the PsychoPass methord, a simple way to create strong passwords which are easy to remember. This method relies on mental practice and is not an hardware or a software to download. The idea is that a password can be created, memorized and recalled by just thinking of an action sequence instead of a word or string of characters. To be more specific, the method consists of the following steps (see Figure 1 and 2): (1) begin with a letter on the keyboard; (2) memorize a sequence of actions (something like “the key on the left, then the upper one, then the one on the right”, and so on); (3) memorize the sequence (not the letters used); (4) create as many passwords as you want by remembering only the first letter and the sequence. Using different types of sequences it is possible generate thousands of different passwords. Using sequences' combination is possible to create an infinite number of passwords. Moreover the created passwords will be a nonsense sequence of letters, numbers and symbols, resilient to any attack.

Furthermore the password communication among colleagues maybe done just by using the first letter and on the base of a common knowledge of the sequence (e.g., sequence 3, letter j).

El Emam and Colleagues state that more sophisticated collaboration tools are required to allow file sharing without password sharing, and provide several recommendations to implement these practices. We think that more awareness and new practices among users may represent the correct way to implement security beyond the technological issues. In particular, future research needs to focus on the processes that make technology a powerful tool for security.

[view this figure]
Figure 1. The same sequence to generate different passwords (about 15 minutes to memorize the sequence).

[view this figure]
Figure 2. Another sequence to generate other passwords (about 15 minutes to memorize the sequence).

Conflicts of Interest

None declared.

Multimedia Appendix 1

Movie demonstrating the method.

[MOV File, 7MB]


  1. El Emam K, Moreau K, Jonker E. How strong are passwords used to protect personal health information in clinical trials? J Med Internet Res 2011;13(1):e18 [FREE Full text] [CrossRef] [Medline]

Edited by G Eysenbach; submitted 06.08.11; peer-reviewed by K El Emam; accepted 07.01.12; published 10.01.12

Please cite as:
Cipresso P, Gaggioli A, Serino S, Cipresso S, Riva G
How to Create Memorizable and Strong Passwords
J Med Internet Res 2012;14(1):e10
doi: 10.2196/jmir.1906
PMID: 22233980

Export Metadata:
END, compatible with Endnote
BibTeX, compatible with BibDesk, LaTeX
RIS, compatible with RefMan, Procite, Endnote, RefWorks

Add this article to your Mendeley library
Add this article to your CiteULike library


©Pietro Cipresso, Andrea Gaggioli, Silvia Serino, Sergio Cipresso, Giuseppe Riva. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 10.01.2012.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.