How many times have we heard from security experts that the only way to protect our online identities is by creating strong and complex passwords? Unbreakable logins are the best line of defense against hackers but, let’s face it, the human brain isn’t optimized for memorizing seemingly random sets of characters. That’s why many people tend to write those passwords down, except that these same experts also warn that this shouldn’t ever be done. It’s a typical catch 22: if we don’t create impossibly complex passwords then we risk our security, but if we don’t we’re forced into struggling to remember them without being able to write them down.
However, the issue of whether or not to keep onto passwords in written form is a bit more complicated than this. And even if there are better methods to store complex logins in a safe manner, jotting them down is in certain circumstances something that is manageable.
The Rules of Writing Down Passwords
The idea behind writing passwords down is quite simple: this way there’s no risk of forgetting login credentials, plus there is a smaller chance of having them sniffed out by hackers if they’re not stored by the program, browser, or operating system. However, since this means they are stored physically, it’s also possible that over time the password could be lost or stolen. As such, if there is no other way to ensure the safekeeping of passwords than noting them down on a piece of paper – or putting them into a notebook – then there are certain countermeasures that need to be taken in order to make sure no unauthorized person will get their hands on your credentials.
With this in mind, keeping an ever-watchful eye on your written passwords will be the number one rule. Consider putting them into a secure place like a safe, a lockable drawer or, if those aren’t available, a notebook or your wallet. It’s also best to write down logins without the usernames they belong to because even if the list of passwords is somehow stolen, they are nothing more than random characters if they cannot be paired with a username. If you’re really struggling to match passwords without their usernames, developing a system of slightly changing the login when writing it down will help maintain your safety.
However, by far the most crucial rule of written passwords is to never do so in a workplace environment. It’s one thing that keeping logins on a sticky note is very likely to be against the company’s password policies, but if they are stolen because they were left lying around unprotected, it could easily result in the victim being fired due to employee negligence.
Password Logbook: Sticky Note 2.0
Even though sticky notes or any piece of paper can be useful for storing impossibly complex logins, we can all agree that their overall safety is far from the ideal – and not just because they are easy to lose. However, this can be prevented by storing passwords in a notebook or, better yet, a password organizer.
Aside from being a more stylish way of safekeeping passwords, this type of notebook does exactly the same thing as sticky notes, namely keeping logins separate from the computer and therefore making them invisible to hackers. But sadly, password logbooks also share the same weaknesses as pieces of paper do: they have to be kept in a safe place all the time to prevent them from being stolen or physically damaged, and are quite inconvenient due to the fact that they force users to have to manually delete or modify passwords that are stored within them.
Password Managers to the Rescue
Although jotting down passwords can work in some cases, it’s quite obvious that safekeeping logins this way is a habit that users should get rid of as soon as possible. Thankfully, the first step towards achieving this is just by turning to two more efficient methods, either by coming up with strong but memorable passwords or the simplest option of the two: getting a password management program.
Aside from being mobile-friendly and ridiculously easy to use, password managers are by far the safest way of storing logins. Not only do these programs encrypt the password storage in multiple ways but they also make sure that credentials remain hidden from prying eyes by automatically inserting them into the login screen that they are needed for.
Best Password Managers of 2019