The single most important thing you can do today to remain safe in our digital world is to protect your passwords. How you protect your password is open to a lot of different approaches but what’s important is that you have a plan and follow it.
In a previous post “A Quick Read to Help You Manage Passwords” I recommended a couple ‘low tech’ approaching to password management. The first was the use of passphrases to help you manage passwords, this is an approach I use a great deal. I also quoted a security blog I read called KrebsonSecurity in which he discusses how actually writing down passwords isn’t as taboo as it used to be as long as you use this to make complex passwords and are careful with your written document, not storing it next to your computer.
A more ‘high tech’ approach is to use a piece of software called a password manager. A password manager is a software application that helps you store and organize passwords. Password managers usually store passwords encrypted, requiring the user to create a master password; a single, ideally very strong password which grants the user access to their entire password database. There are many options in password managers today offering the ability to store passwords on your computer, across many devices or in the cloud (see my post on Cloud Technology).
A typical password manager integrates with the browser, captures the username and password when you log in to a secure site. While some password managers rely on browser integration, others are applications that allow for secure access to stand alone applications as well as internet based applications. When you revisit a site with stored credentials, most password managers automatically fill the saved data, offering a menu if you’ve saved more than one set of credentials. Some password managers also offer and added benefit of filling in personal information automatically on webforms, this is a nice-to-have feature but not necessary.
Finally, there is the issue of a master password. This is the one password that gets you into the password manager. This needs to be as secure as possible with some password managers today even allow for two-factor authentication including facial recognition. While facial recognition is a bit extreme for most of us, many do offer two factor authentication with an app on your phone.
Recently both PCMagazine and LifeHacker did reviews of the top passwords managers for 2015. They both agreed that LastPass earned top honors and the best part is they offer a free version to get started with. Take a read of the two articles below and try one out. Secure passwords are the most important thing you can do in today’s online world.