If you’re like most home computer users, you use the same 2 or 3 passwords for your various accounts and your passwords are easy to crack. As you keep reading news reports about hacked accounts and stolen identities, you think you should do something about your passwords, but you keep putting it off.
Like personal security, password management is something most people don’t think much about until after something bad happens. Unfortunately, the Internet is not secure. Just as you need to be “street wise” when venturing onto streets, you need to be “net wise” – especially with passwords – when venturing onto the Internet. Because, like it or not, your passwords are currently the main barrier between you and the bad guys.
Most password management advice seems designed to torture you as opposed to help you. For the average Joe with average security needs, password management advice needs to be simple and usable, not just secure. Luckily, there is a reasonably secure form of password management that is simple and usable. Here it is:
The Four Steps to Simple, Usable, and Secure Password Management
- Choose a password manager.
- Setup unique, random 15 character passwords for every online account. Sounds hard, but most password managers make this easy to do.
- Protect these passwords with a master password that is strong and memorable.
- Use your password manager by typing in your master password each time you start your computer work. Then use a single click to log in to each account, as needed.
This is all you need to do.
This is not the usual advice you’ll find in formal and informal blogs across the internet, and it will not perfectly secure you against all possible forms of password theft. It is, however, the best blend of security and ease-of-use I’ve been able to come up with after considerable research and thought about the subject.
If you follow the four steps above, you’ll be much safer than the average netizen – comparable to having a home protected by locks, burglar alarms, smoke detectors, and sprinklers as opposed to just a front door lock with a spare key underneath the mat. You will not only protect yourself from the most common threats, but you will also save yourself a lot of time over the long run thanks to automatic logins and form filling.
Read through the entire series to learn why you should take the time to do this, the best way to go about doing it, what security advice you should ignore, and most importantly to become as “net wise” as you are “street wise.”
The complete list of posts:
- Password Management for the Average Joe (this post)
- Use a Password Manager to Assign Unique, Random 15 Character Passwords for all Accounts, Protecting them with a Strong Master Password
- Which Password Manager?
- Tips for Wise Use of Password Managers – Including Master Password Selection
- Bad or Useless Advice about Password Management
- A Base Phrase Approach to Password Management
- How Attackers Steal Passwords
- The Usual Way to Manage Passwords and How Attackers Exploit It
- Definitions for Common Password Security Terms
1) Passwords are just one form of necessary security. PCs with out-of-date browsers, security software, and/or operating system software frequently get infected with malware. Perfect password security doesn’t matter if malware observes everything you do on your computer.
2) I have not been paid to create this series of articles, and will receive no payments if you click on any links in the main content area. The only free product accepted as part of writing this series of articles was 1Password for my wife to test on her iMac. I wrote this comprehensive guide because I have developed a passion for the subject over the past year and felt that someone needed to pull all these password-related concepts together into one helpful reference guide. I welcome specific feedback so that I can improve upon this series of posts on passwords, with the hope that helping people to become more “net wise” will help reduce password theft.