Passwords, passwords, passwords!
If you are concerned about the security of your online information and personal identity (and who wouldn’t be?), then you’ve had to think about passwords. Security people talk about them. Every website you create an account for
requires one. Advice is prolific:
- Don’t use common words or phrases
- Don’t make a hardcopy list of your passwords on a sticky note attached to your desk
- Make your passwords long
- No, even longer!
And then you hear about data breaches and brute force attacks and compromised passwords and…yikes!
“Are my passwords strong enough?” you ask yourself. “Have I used the right characters/the right number of characters/the right words!?!”
Fear not. The answer to this is really quite simple.
You need a password manager. Actually, we all do, no matter how tech savvy (or unsavvy) you might be, whether you do all your banking online or just hang out on Facebook or do some online shopping here and there. Having a password manager has become a no-brainer. Here’s why:
Reason 1: We humans are smart, but our memories have limits. Have you ever considered how many online account you have? 20? 50? It’s a lot, and there’s no way you can remember all those passwords unless you make some pretty big password blunders, like using the same password for multiple sites (BIG mistake) or go with simple, easily crackable words like “Fluffy123” (your pet, whose name anyone can find on Facebook) or 11251964 (which just happens to be your birthday…also easily hacked).
With a password manager, you only need to remember one password (the one for the manager) and it remembers all the rest.
Reason 2: It is important to have long, complex passwords and you can find numerous articles suggesting what’s best. 12 characters long is good, 14 is better, and so on. Upper and lower case should be mixed. Add special characters. Etc. But here’s the thing: if your password manager is remembering everything for you, you can have very long, very complex passwords for every site you visit! For example, I just went to my password manager (I use the free version of LastPass) and got it to generate a password for me. I got “qqT50k#7VVceyDhz” in the blink of an eye. And since I don’t have to think it up or remember it, there’s no pressure to make any of my passwords simpler.
Reason 3: They are easy to use and there are lots of password managers to choose from. Here’s an easy place to find one: https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2475964,00.asp. The ones listed here are all free versions, but you can find an equally informative list of the paid options if you want some of the advanced features like syncing passwords across all your devices, etc.
If the thought of a password manager is just too overwhelming to you (and, again, it needn’t be), there’s a still more simple option: many operating systems already contain their own password manager, like Mac’s Keychain or Window’s Credentials. This is what’s at work when your computer asks you if you want it to remember your login information for a specific site. While there may be some benefits to an outside manager, these “in house” options get the job done and are certainly better than having to remember “qqT50k#7VVceyDhz.”
To sum up: Hackers want to crack into your accounts so you need lots of complex, varied passwords. These passwords can be painful to create, maintain, and remember BUT…
…password managers make life simple (at least the password part of your life). We recommend you get one today.