Every day it seems like there are more and more accounts that you need and every single one of them requires a unique password that is more than ten characters long and contains upper- and lower-case letters, special characters, and numbers but you can’t have any double characters. It gets harder and harder to keep track of all of these passwords and then on top of that some accounts require that you change your passwords every 30, 60 or 90 days.
I know many people use a password book and they are constantly trying to scratch out one password to add the new one. Every time they get a new account they have to figure out where to write it down since there is no room where it should go alphabetically in their book. They add the date to try to help them keep track of which is the current password. Others use a spreadsheet and make handwritten changes and then go into the digital document occasionally to update it and reprint it.
Maybe you just use your browser’s password manager to keep track of all of those passwords. This is fine until someone gets into your browser and has access to all of your accounts. These are great for remembering your passwords, but they are not very secure. If your computer is unlocked these can be used without any further authorization.
So, what can you do to make sure your passwords are secure and also that you can access them and use them on all of your devices when you need to? You basically have two options. First you can try to remember all of those passwords, which is mostly impossible since they all need to be unique, and you might have more than one email address, so you also have to remember which email goes with which account. The other more realistic option is to deploy a password manager and use it on all of your devices.
Password managers offer the security of having long, unique passwords for all of your accounts while giving you the convenience of only having to remember one password. The next time an account tells you that you need to change your password, your password manager can handle everything for you. It will come up with a new unique password and change the entry in your password manager so it will be correct the next time that you use this account. Most password managers will even sync this change across all of your devices.
I know the initial setup can be daunting, but just think about having to recover all of your accounts if your current book, sheet, or browser gets compromised. The recovery time on that mess would be much worse and you could possibly have information or money stolen in the process.
There are a few different ways to set up your password manager:
- Most will allow you to import your information into them. You just need to find out what the format needs to be and copy from your current document, or browser into that format.
- Make a day of it. Not much fun, but if you have the time, just sit down with all of your accounts and login to one after another.
- Set up as you go. In this scenario you would use your old system and your password manager simultaneously. Each time you need a password, open your password manager and if that account isn’t there you can add it. The downside to doing this is that eventually you will probably have to have a session to do the rest that you hardly ever use.
Once you have all of your passwords in the manager, accessing them and even adding new ones will be much easier. Not to mention how much easier it will be to set up a new device since all you will have to do is add your password manager to the device and all of your accounts will be there automatically.
I know all of us have been dreading this and putting off the inevitable, me included. But it isn’t going to get any easier so the sooner we make the change the better it will be. As always, I am available to help with finding the right product and even helping to import information into it if you need.
I did some research and the password manager that I like and use is Keeper.