We live in a connected world with online access to hundreds of sites, and it seems like that number is growing all the time. The primary security method to access these sites is almost as old as the computer — it is a user name and password. How many passwords do you have to remember for all the sites you need to access? With a continuous increase in multiple website applications, people are in need of 80-120 passwords just to do their job. Did I mention the human brain is only good at remembering three?
For those of us without a photographic memory to recall all those passwords, we are left with the pick one “go-to” password strategy and use it for every website and application. That means if the weakest link in all the sites is breached, a hacker has access to all your online accounts. Probably even your work accounts. Are you willing to risk your bank account access, email access, etc., with the same password as your Pinterest account? Could it really be this easy to hand over universal access to all your company accounts? With the use of that “go-to” password, it is.
However, it is very understandable why everyone feels trapped when trying to protect their accounts — because managing passwords comes with two strict options:
- Keep passwords simple, the same, and easy to remember for all the sites because you cannot possibly remember them all — that “go to” password instinct.
- Make a complex and unique password for each website and application you’ll use — but how do you remember them? Write them down? Maybe on a Post-it note? Use Excel or Word?
If you chose option #2, you’re on the right path, but please don’t write them down or store them in an office document (no, not even if it is password protected). There is a better and much easier solution — a Password Manager application!
There are many different options out there for an easy to use and free tool that will secure all your passwords. They even insert them in the web page for you so you don’t have to type out your user ID or password! The three primary tools that are the most popular are:
They all function similarly and all offer free versions. They also offer ways for you to share and sync passwords between devices or between users (you and your spouse can share common account log-ins). LastPass offers multi-factor authentication (you have to approve log-in with your phone) for free, Dashlane charges for that feature, but offers mobile device access for free (LastPass charges for that feature). The right tool may be a different answer for everyone, but the important point is to pick one and start using it right away. For simplicity, you can evaluate the three we have mentioned, and you will find a good tool from just those choices. In addition, here are a few links with helpful reviews on different features of the most popular password managers:
If you are asking the question, “are these tools secure enough to trust with all your passwords?”, then the answer is, yes, they are secure, and a lot of money was spent in development to make sure they are secure. However, even the NSA can get hacked. Nothing is 100 percent, but it is more secure than the alternative of only having a few weak passwords, or writing down all your passwords. Get started today — pick one really strong and complex password you can remember to log-in to your new password manager tool (using only that password for the password manager), then let the application do the work to remember all those other complex passwords to keep your access secure.