I was cruising through my local bookstore (read: large chain bookopolis) for a Valentine’s Day gift for my beloved when I noticed an innocent looking little journal called “The Personal Internet Address and Password Logbook”. IMAGINE the convenience of having all your favorite websites addresses, and the accompanying username and passwords in one place! In today’s world where every website comes with a logon, it sounds like heaven…especially to the guy who stole your purse or your briefcase and now has your whole life. Yes, I understand that some of you (like my mom) keep that book at home hidden somewhere (on your desk) that no one will ever find it, but what if?
Now, I have too many passwords. At last count, I think I was close to two hundred and sixty seven passwords for work, home and otherwise. And, not only do I have 267 passwords, but they are also all different. From my banking password to my twitter account to my account on the website where I buy my dog’s new coats, each password is unique and as complex as each website’s password rules will allow.
I don’t write any of the passwords down on a piece of paper and store it under my keyboard, none of my passwords include my dog’s name or my favorite sports team, and some of them have as many as thirty numbers, letters and special characters.
Am I crazy? Probably but that has nothing to do with my passwords. (Just ask my wife.)
I am addicted to my personal digital password manager. It holds all my passwords in encrypted, named format and usually includes the username, website address and any other required information in each record as well. The product I use for my personal passwords allows me to sync my passwords on my personal pc, my iPhone and a USB stick that I use as a safety back up. All I need to remember is the master password to the password manager database. One password to rule them all!
All your websites, usernames and passwords in one place (sound familiar yet?) but encrypted against theft. There are many good password managers out there (some free, some paid), and this LifeHacker article does a great job of breaking down a few of the best for you so I don’t need to re-invent the wheel.
The important thing to remember is that writing down your passwords and leaving them in a format anyone could read, using the same password for your banking, house alarm code and email account, or using easily guessable passwords (your spouse’s name or birthday) increases the chances your password, your identity and your money can be taken from you.
Protect yourself by choosing complex and unique passwords wherever possible, and protect those passwords by using an encrypted password manager or vault. Otherwise, you’re just saying, “Take my passwords…please!”