It's amazing how careless people are with passwords: the vast majority of users expose themselves to online theft by ignoring the recommended security measures, according to a study from Cyber Streetwise. The problem with this is that hackers need to compromise only one email address and they can then impersonate the user’s entire digital life. Have you read those horror stories of people waking up to an empty bank account and $30,000 worth of merchandise being shipped to Africa? In the end this is what you expose yourself to if you don’t take online security seriously.
What is there to learn from this? Well, first of all it's important to protect your email account with a strong and unique password. And if the email service provides a two-factor authentication option then you should enable it, because that's a second layer of security and a great way to protect yourself against a hacker attack.
The spiking adoption rate of internet-based services has brought with it a new problem. In the U.S. the average email address is associated with 130 different accounts, according to a survey conducted by password management service Dashlane. This ‘online overload’ is getting worse every day; just think about the number of online accounts you’re signed up to.
How Many “Forgot Password” Emails Do You Get?
Even if you are mildly serious about your digital security then most of those associated online accounts will each come with their own password, or at least variations of a handful of the same passwords. But are you able to remember 100 unique login and password combinations? Yes, that's a hard task, it would be with even 50 accounts, so it’s no wonder that password reset emails account for a huge chunk of messages received. Although there are simple tricks to use to help create unique, strong passwords, these passwords need to be organized somehow in order to retrieve them faster. Here are our three favorite methods:
Keeping Passwords Organized in an Electronic Document
It’s free, but not always recommended, especially not for highly sensitive information. The trick is very simple: take either an Excel or MS Word document and name it without mentioning “Passwords” so as to avoid drawing too much attention to it. Enter in your passwords and organize them by categories, such as social media, bills and the like.
But if you pick this method, it’s recommended that you don’t write the exact password down. Instead use a hint, such as “cat name + year of birth”. Be sure to encrypt the file as well, so that if hackers who do manage to get access to your computer won't be able to see the contents of the document.
Paper-Based Password Organizers
The paper-based method is old fashioned but would still work well. Just pick an address book or ‘password book‘ and use the letters of the alphabet to organize the logins and passwords in a way that will help you to easily find them. One simple piece of advice, though: use a pencil instead of a pen, as these credentials may change over time. And as recommended above, be sure to only use password hints instead of the password itself (if you can). Be careful about where this address book is stored, though, because if it is misplaced then anyone could have access to your personal information.
As password overload becomes increasingly frustrating, password managers are able to solve the problem with secure cloud-based systems that sync all your passwords across all your used devices. This also means that it is possible to actually go ahead and forget all those passwords, and instead only remember one. This master password will open the vault to where all the other passwords are stored by the chosen password management service. Password managers offer a convenient way to log into online accounts, since visiting a site with your account credentials already saved will automatically display those details ready for you to hit ‘sign in’.
Along with the search option – handy if you are searching for a specific credential – password managers also provide other organization options, such as separate vaults for personal and business credentials.
Those wanting to store their account details even more effectively can add tags and/or group different accounts under certain categories or group names to ease with the searching process. That's in addition to the various categorization options that password managers usually provide, where they will typically store your details in corresponding sections like logins, secure notes, credit cards, identity, and much more. The result is a much clearer database with easy-to-locate credentials that are retrievable in seconds when needed. But the ultimate question in this case is this: which password manager to choose? Check out our password manager review section to pick the one that’s right for you.
Best Password Managers of 2019
|Editor's Choice 2019|