Do you remember your high school janitor jingling down the hall carrying a set of a thousand keys? We used to giggle at that guy being weighted to one side by this big chunk of metal clanging down the hallway. As teenagers, we were carefree with little responsibility.
But now, we are the key holders carrying the weight of dozens of passwords, just like that janitor.
If you are like me, passwords have become the bane of your existence. The number of times I go to log in to an account and get stumped at the password screen is growing exponentially lately. I would like to think it is just the sheer number of accounts I am holding, but it may also be my age. Either way it is a problem.
There was a time when life was simpler – I had one password for everything: pin number, computer log in or alarm code – Just one 4-digit number. Keeping track of that was very easy. But that is not feasible any more.
The next step I took was to do what so many of us do. Basically have 2-3 passwords and use deviations of these passwords when forced to change them. This works for a while and I think how safe I am compared to my old practice.
But time forces us to change more and more of them and then they do not allow previously used passwords. [I only have so many pets/kids/anniversaries!].
As you ponder which version of your children’s names or nicknames you used in your latest update for your bank account log in the minutes of your life are ticking away and next thing you know you are locked out. Wait, was it ChildsName1 or Childsname2? Do I call them for help and look stupid again or do I wait it out?
Unfortunately if you hit the “forgot your password” button too often, you are simply upping your changes of forgetting the next time since your change frequency is higher. More changes caused me to deviate even further from my standards which made them harder to remember, causing… Well you get the point.
Here is the problem – we need passwords for our online life. Our online life is expanding fast. Passwords help/protect us as long as we remember them and they are strong enough to keep the undesirables out. The more complicated your passwords, the more secure it is, and the more likely you are to forget it. Help!
In pondering this dilemma I thought of three important questions:
- How many passwords does the average person have?
Even with the integrating of Google, Amazon services and Facebook with many websites, the average person has to track 20 or more password variations due to forced changes and requirements. Think that sounds Ludacris? Consider that the average online consumer is likely to have passwords for: Google [email], eBay, PayPal, Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, Banks, Craigslist, Evite, Insurance, Retirement/investment, Retail stores, Photo sharing, Tax Services, Phone and Internet companies, Hotel accounts and Utilities.
Next sprinkle in the corporate world you have your set of log ins such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Salesforce, Outlook, payroll, website log in, Dropbox [storage], web hosting, and your PC. We all know that the amount of identities you have to manage is staggering.
No wonder we forget to pick up the milk.
- Why do better passwords matter?
In one word: security. But you may not think you are a target, so no need to worry. False – just because you do not have a lot of money, does not mean you cannot be robbed. Just because you do not drive much does not mean you won’t get in an accident. Would you not put your child in a seat belt, because it is only a short trip? Let’s hope not.
15 million (yes million) US citizens have their identity used fraudulently every year – about 7% of us. 100 million additional citizens have their data put at risk with breaches into government and corporate records. Cyber crime is booming and in part because we all ignorantly think we are not targets. Is it just our neighbors that are at risk?
- What can do to make your life easier and more secure?
Enter the password manager – a software program that stores your passwords in an encrypted format. It gives you the freedom to use them as you need them.
For the longest time I avoided them with the logic that, I am smart enough to easily remember my passwords. I also did not want to spend the money on the cause. Lastly, how safe can that be to have all of your data in one program?
I never realized I could find a solution that compiled passwords for my phone, computer, tablet and laptop from everywhere. Accessibility is key to a great password manager. After major frustrations, it was time and I could truly justify the minimal cost to avoid the time lost and hassle in forgetting my logins.
I reviewed several different packages out there that would work across cross platforms from Windows/Android/iOS/Mac and found solution that would work across all these platforms.
- Password managers tend to have secure password generators in them. They make very complex safe passwords that would be very hard to memorize. I don’t need to remember something as crazy as “vvdClROetlrqV3CjFkr8qoXw”, because it does it for me.
- And if one site is compromised, all of your other accounts are so isolated that your risk is limited to a single site.
It is such a stress reliever knowing that my passwords and key information is in a secure vault that I can access when I desire, back up and protect. I am free to come and go as I please not worrying about my password problems again.
Of course the cynic in me gets nervous that this stuff is documented and I have to trust another company with it all. After all if someone could potentially crack into that they can get everything, but it was obvious the old way was not cutting it anymore and there’s enough security on these things that you’re able to protect yourself a lot better than most folks.
So if you are forgetful, have a ton of user accounts or you have to have passwords that are difficult to remember, a password manager is a great choice.
A few to check out:
Here is a complete 2015 list with cost and benefits comparison from PCMag.
IMPORTANT: Always make your master password complicated, but easy to memorize.
Now if I could only remember what soccer field I am supposed to pick up my kid at.
-Dan Adams, CEO NENS