Recently, a new list of the post popular passwords has been making the rounds. I’ve talked about this kind of thing before, and I usually discuss this kind of issue with clients on a regular basis, but no one ever seems to take me seriously.
Passwords are the primary keys we use on the locks of our personal information. The tough ones are when people tell me they have nothing important worth protecting. I’m sure if someone got into your e-mail account and took all of the things saved there, you’d see how important it was.
So, what are you supposed to do? The ideal situation is to create different passwords for different sites. Having different user names can increase the security of your information, but often you’ll still have issues with how many e-mail addresses you’ll use for the sites (most people use only one e-mail address for all their communication). However, using a different password for every site can be difficult to manage. Using a tool will help greatly.
Which tool to use is going to depend on you. Some can get by with a “little black book” so to speak. However, writing down your passwords leaves you open to someone else reading the book (which usually has no security of its own) or leaving the book behind when you need to use the password while you’re away from your computer.
There are many different software titles and a few websites you can use to help manage your passwords. Depending upon the solution, it can allow you to have access to your passwords regardless of where you are at or which computer you are using. The downside is you then have to rely on the security of the application or website.
I chose a solution which rated highly on the security of its database (essentially, the database was uncrackable compared to other solutions available at the time of the review). Unfortunately, it’s not as convenient to use (e.g. synchronizing across devices is done manually, it doesn’t automatically fill in forms). This article from a couple of years ago goes over some analysis of popular password managers for the iPhone.
Because of that article, I stopped using the password manager I had been using and switched to Strip. They don’t appear to have a free version any more, but it’s inexpensive enough to be a relative no-brainer to just go out and buy. Their licensing terms are also very reasonable; you buy it once for each operating system and can use it on as many devices as you own. For myself, I had to buy the Mac, Windows, and Android versions. It only cost me $25. If I had an iOS device, it would only add another $5 to my cost.
You can synchronize your various devices using a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Another popular product I’ve seen recommended is Dashlane. While the application is free, to synchronize across all your devices, you’ll need to pay for their service at about $30 per year. It has the convenience of filling in web forms for you and the synchronization is automatic.
Both of these applications will help you manage and create strong passwords. Every time I create new credentials, I use Strip to create a password for it and save the password in the program which I can now synchronize across all my devices.
As I see it, with these kinds of apps available, there really isn’t a good excuse for not maintaining good passwords for your sites. Each site can have a good, long, strong, and unique password.