Why are you still using the same old password?

We are all guilty of it (even I am). Using the same user name and password on multiple sites. Some sites just use your e-mail address as a user name. How many do so and also use the same password which applies to the e-mail address because it’s easier to remember? I shudder at those who want to have the user name and password be identical!

More news has pointed out a site which has been compromised and had login credentials stolen. The follow-up e-mail from the company instructs users to create new accounts and to change passwords on other accounts whichwere the same as used on this site.

When I visit a client, I’ll encourage them to use different passwords, especially for financial institutions. I often start the conversation when setting up a new wireless router. I’ll make sure the password to access the wireless network is something which can be shared and isn’t the same as what’s used elsewhere.

Financial institutions can be a big hassle if someone gets your login credentials. For many consumer accounts, you may have the ability to recover funds which were removed by using some kind of insurance (check with your bank to see what’s available for your account). Brokerage and business accounts generally don’t have the same kinds of consumer protections on them (when the money is taken, it’s gone for good). I strongly recommend you use very strong passwords with your financial institutions and they be unique to each account.

Using unique passwords for each site is not foolproof. Most sites have a password recovery or change procedure. This would require someone to get access to your e-mail account and then utilize the procedure to get access to your account. Some places make it more difficult (my bank requires me to have a set of five security questions for account authentication purposes), but some just send a link for you to click which may or may not require you to answer further questions to get access. What you should be doing here is making sure your security questions are not easy for someone else to figure out the answers (did you know it’s okay to make answers which have no relation to the question? Example: “What’s your favorite food?” Answer: “Oldsmobile”).

Most people find  the difficult part is remembering all these passwords. Managing passwords can be difficult, especially if you try to memorize them. Most browsers have the ability to save them, but doing so is not necessarily secure (Microsoft Internet Explorer, for instance, has effectively no security for this; Mozilla Firefox has some security, but you have to go into the settings to set a password which the program doesn’t inform you to do). You can do something as simple as making a little black book of your login credentials. The upside is it can’t be hacked by malware on your computer. The downside is anyone who knows about the book could view it, copy it, or just take it. There are many software titles available to help you manage your passwords. Rather than go into them myself, I’ll just refer you to a couple of sites:

From Gizmo’s best freeware lists: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-web-form-filler-password-manager.htm Mostly software which works on Windows.

Pure-Mac.com has a list of Password Managers on their security page: http://www.pure-mac.com/security.html As suggested by the site name, these work on the Mac OS (although some have versions for other operating systems).

So, go out and change your passwords and use some kind of tool to manage them which works for you.

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