If your reading this, that means you are connected to the internet. And if you are connected to the internet you are guaranteed to have a minimum of 1 password, but more likely 20+ passwords to remember! In addition to keeping track of all these passwords, let’s make it more frustrating by adding the security concern behind what it means to have and protect a password. Your banking, your bills, your healthcare information and so on. All of those “digital assets” that belong to you are stored behind those passwords. That is an important amount of responsibility behind the protection of this data.
So given the amount of sensitive data that is protected with those passwords, how well do you manage and ensure they are safe and organized. In addition, are they complex enough to defeat a hacker that wants to break into your digital world?
Let’s take a quiz, how many of these items describe you Password Management plan:
- Passwords are on various sticky notes
- I have a spreadsheet or word document with passwords that is usually updated
- I have one password that is used on just about everything
- My password is the name of my grandchild or date of birth or pet
So how did you do? Did you score a 100% or close to it on this quiz? Well, think of this quiz like golf, you want a lower score!!
We all want to do the right thing, be safe and be organized, but we have not been trained on how to do this with passwords. Plus we have a lot of other things in life to worry about and this is frankly lower on the list to do research and find out what my options are and how to address this security and organization nightmare.
Let me introduce you to a new concept in our digital world…Password Managers. A password manager will generate, retrieve, and keep track of super-long, crazy-random passwords across countless accounts for you, while also protecting all your vital online info—not only passwords but PINs, credit-card numbers and their three-digit CVV codes, answers to security questions, and more—with encryption so strong that it might take a hacker between decades and forever to crack. Here is the best part of this…in order to get this, you only need to remember ONE password. With this one password all of your password data will be secured in a virtual vault.
This is not a single bullet to defend you in the digital world. You will want to take other security measures, such as setting lock screens on all your devices, using two-factor authentication on valued accounts, and only using computers that you trust.
Here are some common questions and answers to provide more details on this solution:
Q: Where Will My Passwords Be Stored?
A: You have a choice, it can be local (on your PC) or cloud-based storage. For those very secure conscious they will prefer local on your computer. However it limits when they can be available so if your traveling and need a password to use on your phone or daughter’s laptop, they are not available. Cloud based storage enables you to get to your passwords at any time. Another benefit of cloud storage is if your computer dies at home. Passwords can easily be lost if they are not backed up on the ‘cloud’.
Q: How safe is it?
A: Well, the companies that are in this business hire security professionals whose job is to make sure your data is always safe. The reason I bring this up is that these folks do this for a living, it’s their job to ensure your info is safe and secure. My guess is that they are more adept at security that you or I and therefore they are in a better position to secure your data than us.
Q: What If I Forget My Master Password?
A: All your data is now protected by ONE password. It’s vital to remember this and make it tough to guess. On the off hand if you forget it, that is not good! Some products provide a ‘backdoor’ or hint to reset your master password. But others do not.
Q: What will these cost?
A: Like all software apps out there, they run the gamut of $100+ year to $0. The price depends on what options are important to you. Here is a quick run down of some options to consider:
- Cloud based or Local Storage – Where is the data stored , on server or local machine
- Do you want to have your data available on only one device or is it important to have when you travel or have it on different devices (tablet, work pc, home pc, phone)
- Do you have separate operating systems to consider: an iMac at home, a Windows computer in the office or a Droid or Apple phone?
- Do you want to share passwords with family members so that you can keep a copy of your wife or kids passwords.
- Do you want to have it alert you if a company you store your password with has a security breach?
- Do you have more than 5 or 10 or 20 passwords?
- Do you want to store your credit card info and have it fill in when you are in a web page?
There are many products out there that contain some, many or all of the above options. It’s all a matter of what options are more important than other options, along with how much do you want to pay. There is one final determination to make on this: how diligent will you be? How much time and effort do you want to put into this process to learn it and maintain it?
As these decisions are all personal and based on what is important to you, there is not a single product that is top of the list. Rather than selecting a “top product” I will tell you that I use Last Pass and find it very helpful as it stores all my passwords, organizes them efficiently and is accessible on multiple computers, tablets and phones. In addition when a password changes it “detects” the change for me and prompts me to ask if I want to update it. In addition when I land on a page that requires me to log in, it pre-fills in my username and password for me, so I don’t have to remember or type it in. I love this time saver!
Well, I will leave you with a few good articles and links to help educate you and provide you guidance on what products may be a good fit for you.
- Consumer reports – good article to explain these tools
- CNET guide to 2018 best Password Managers
- PC Magazine guide to 2018 best Password Manager review tools
- Tom’s Guide (a very trusted source in tech) on using Last Pass
Very funny (and clean video)
https://youtu.be/8GxqvnQyaxs – Funny excerpt from the TV Show “The Office” on a password (not as clean)
funny Videos that are a bit off color:
(these are not clean and contain some foul language. Some would consider these funny):