It’s extremely important that you have secure and strong passwords for all of your online accounts and to keep them in a safe but accessible place. This is where password managers come in.
But who can remember all them? And are they safe?
Some people can have over 100 different passwords for different accounts! We do.
Fortunately, there are several options when it comes to password management software for keeping track of your login information.
The one that we use to make our life much easier is RoboForm. There are several other companies to choose from and I’ll mention a few of them.
How Do You Choose Your Logins?
A lot of people choose passwords that are easy for them to remember. Most people have combinations of their favorite set of letters, characters and numbers. Do any of these sound familiar:
• Real words
• Kids names
• Pet names
• Throw in a capital letter to be different!
• Old telephone numbers
• Names from favorite books
And then they – we – use them over and over again, maybe in different combinations. Easier for us to remember and it makes it easy for hackers to figure them out.
Mike used the same password over and over for years. Once in a while he’d add a number or two or a capital letter to change it up.
The main problem with using the same password for all your online accounts is that in the case of a breach, all of your accounts could be compromised. This would result in a loss of privacy on such a scale, for many people, that it would be catastrophic. Imagine a hacker having access to your bank account, credit cards, PayPal, email – everything! Obviously, this is something to avoid at all costs. So how do you do it?
How Good Are Your Passwords?
Check them out how strong your logins are here:
Creating Better Passwords
Make your passwords complex – that means totally random and hard to remember for you. The best ones are made up of at least eight or more characters that combine:
• Lowercase letters
• Uppercase letters
Hacking software looks for familiar combinations of letters and for numbers that you substitute for words (“for” 4, “to” 2, “and” &), so a totally random order is the way to go.
And you should use something different for every account. And you should change them every few months.
How creative are you?
Password managers can generate passwords for you. This is helpful, because sometimes it’s hard to just randomly come up with a string of characters. This ensures that every account has a totally different password, which means that even if one account is hacked and your password is compromised, all of your other accounts will remain safe.
RoboForm has this feature. I haven’t used yet, but it is really easy to use. Right up in the RoboForm Toolbar it says “Generate”. You click on that, click on “Generate New”, and you instantly have a random string of caps, lower case and numbers.
But be careful.
I ran a series of randomly generated passwords and checked them in the password-checker I mentioned up above. All of them came out “Weak”. As soon as I added two or three symbols or pieces of punctuation in random places, they jumped up to “Strong”.
Where Do You Keep Your Login Information
And if you have ever lost or forgotten your information, you know how difficult it can be to retrieve it. Some sites have built in reminders or will send you an email so you can find your logins. Of course, you need to remember which email address is associated with your account.
Most people don’t want to carry around a little notebook with all that valuable information written in it. This is what Mike did after he lost some of his Post-It notes. But if you lost that notebook, it would be disastrous!
Of course, you can always keep track of your login info on a spreadsheet. This is what I did, but it’s time-consuming and if I didn’t want to open up Excel and wrote my info on a piece of paper, I might forget to enter it. That would lead to a scramble through the piles of paper on my desk, hoping I hadn’t run it through the shredder.
Then there is the problem if you have the spreadsheet on one computer but are working on another computer or a tablet or Smartphone. I have the spreadsheet on my computer but I have to send it over to Mike for him to have a copy for his use.
You know that I didn’t do that every time I added a new password.
Then Mike would enter new passwords on his copy of the spreadsheet and not tell me about it.
You can figure it out – it was a password mess.
It’s practically impossible to remember all of those passwords.
How’s your memory? Mine’s not that good.
That’s where a password manager comes in.
A password manager is special software that keeps your login information organized and stores it at a central location so you don’t have to remember everything for each site.
It can be desktop-specific, meaning that the program is installed on just one computer, for use on that computer only.
Or it may be stored on a USB stick for portability among computers.
Other typical types of password manager software systems are cloud-based or web-based, where the data is stored on web servers. In-the-cloud storage ensures that your data is not lost in the event that your computer crashes.
We use the version called RoboForm Everywhere, because we have two desktop computers (a PC and a Mac), a laptop, and two iPads, and because Mike travels a lot. It’s easy to use this manager that syncs all of our devices, no matter where they are. Now when Mike (or I) adds a new password, it’s synchronized instantaneously throughout all of our devices.
When you get a RoboForm Everywhere license, you get the RoboForm for Mac and desktop as well as RoboForm2Go licenses as well. Everything is synced and you can easily share your bookmarks, logins, and more among all your computers and devices.
If you only have one computer, or one tablet device, then you can purchase an individual license specific to that device. RoboForm is easy to use, and has tons of tutorials on their website to help you set up and use the software.
Other password managers that have received good reviews are:
• KeePass and KeePassX – where data is stored on your computer or a USB drive
• 1Password – data is stored on your computer or DropBox to sync across all computers
• Firefox Sync – formerly known as Mozilla Weave, this is a Firefox browser plugin
• LastPass – which is stored on their servers
Lifehacker says “LastPass is easy, secure, and it works.”
I’ve stopped remembering my passwords. My memory is going to pot.
Choose a Password Manager
Really, the type of password manager you choose depends on your needs and wants.
The prices we’ve checked run from free to $49.99. None are expensive compared to the time and money you could lose to misplaced logins or cyber-thieves.
We chose RoboForm for three reasons:
1. It works with both PC and Mac
2. They have a version that syncs between devices
3. And a really big reason is that a friend uses it and recommended it to us
For those of you who want to do more research than that, most managers that have a cost also have a free-trial version so you can check them out. Try a few different ones and decide which you like the best.
Which ones have you tried, and which do you prefer? Have you tried one I didn’t mention? What do you think?
Lifehacker quote from LastPass home page under What The Press Are Saying
Illustrations from (c) Can Stock Photo