"Unhackable" Mnemocard Puts Secure Password Generation, Recall in Your Wallet

A simple piece of plastic, Mnemocard has no moving parts or electronic components — but uses patterns to generate and store passwords.

Gareth Halfacree
a month agoSecurity

Developer Ilia Neudakhin has launched a crowdfunding campaign for an "unhackable" system for storing and recalling passwords: the Mnemocard.

"This card can keep a lot of passwords," Neudakhin writes of the Mnemocard. "You can easily reconstruct your password from it. There are no ways to hack the card, you don't need electricity, Wi-Fi, or cellular because Mnemocard does not need all of that, it's just a piece of plastic, after all, beautifully designed, and with unique characters on it though."

"Unhackable" by dint of being solid plastic, the Mnemocard targets weak password use. (📹: Ilia Neudakhin)

That is key to Mnemocard's "unhackable" nature: It's just a printed plastic card, with no moving parts nor electronics at all. Rather than being programmed with existing passwords, it's designed to be used to generate new ones by picking from the displayed characters and symbols in a pattern — diagonally, for example, or in a row skipping alternate columns. Rather than remembering the password, you simply remember the pattern.

"Based on research conducted by Avast," Neudakhin explains, "83% of Americans use weak passwords, and 10% use very weak ones like 'qwerty', '123456' or 'letmein' because it is easy to keep them in mind if they are simple. We in our team have the same problem. If you have a strong enough password it is difficult to keep it in mind and if you have a simple one it is totally unsafe."

The core concept behind Mnemocard isn't new: Printable password generation cards are readily available, while Qwertycard sells commercial implementations. The Mnenocard implementation has a few tweaks to it, though: The characters are split into two tables, and selected boxes are marked with symbols or a colour accent to aid recall while there's a "joker" character which can be replaced with a site-specific string; a Mnemocard+, meanwhile, prints a second set of tables slightly offset, providing the ability to use three-dimensional patterns when selecting a password.

The Mnemocard campaign is now live on Kickstarter, with rewards starting at $15 for a matched pair of Mnemocard or Mnemocard+ cards — one for daily use and the other as a backup to be stored in a safe place.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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