8-16 characters long…Must contain at least one number…Must contain at least one special character…Must have at least one lowercase and one uppercase letter…
The password requirements we see on many websites these days are there to protect you! Yes, protect you from continuing to use the password “123456” or “password” that you’ve been using all these years (you know who you are)!
I’ve also talked many times about how Password Re-Use is a big no no (if a hacker breaks into just one site, he now has your password to a bunch of other sites)! But how do we keep track of all of these different passwords? The average person may have accounts on many dozen websites. Can you remember dozens of passwords and where they go? No.
The good news is that industry leaders such as Microsoft and Intel are working on integrating bio-metric authentication that may be able to replace today’s passwords with the camera on your laptop that will authenticate you automatically. Until then, a PASSWORD MANAGER may be your best friend (NO, dozens of sticky notes placed all around your desk is NOT an acceptable password management system)!
A good password manager will ‘remember’ all of your passwords and info and enter that data automatically when you visit a website. The data will be stored in an encrypted form which you can access with your ‘master’ password (make sure that is a good, complex one!) from many of your devices (PC, smartphone, tablet, etc).
There are many Password Managers which are available. Here are a couple free ones that you can use so you can finally ditch the ‘123456’ and throw away all of those little sticky notes plastered around your workspace!
Norton Identity Safe – Norton’s password manager used to be part of their paid security suite, but now you can get it for free. It stores your passwords in a cloud ‘vault’ and syncs the info across all of your computers, browsers and mobile devices. You can even securely save things like credit card numbers, addresses and notes. They have free apps for Windows, iOS and Android.
LastPass – A good password manager app/service to safely store all of your usernames and passwords. The one main negative to their free version is that it lacks some of the mobile integration of their paid version (you can access your data from your smartphone, but it’s not integrated with an app like with their premium version – which is not too expensive).
One more important note:
Whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET your ‘main’ access password for these password managers. If you get locked out of your password vault, the company will not be able to unlock it for you. Your data is encrypted on their servers (this is a good thing) and they shouldn’t have access to it. Please treat your password data like any other piece of data and have a backup. You should never have only one copy of any data! Print your password list out and put it in a safety deposit box or securely store the data on a USB flash drive (which can be password protected). If something happens, you’ll have a plan B and not a plan S.O.L.!