Passwords and security
Today we’re going to look at an important subject in today’s world of online interaction: Passwords, and how to improve your online security. Life is increasingly becoming virtualized, and we lock down this virtual world of emails, shopping, and banking, with passwords that we have to enter each time we want to access personal information.
But are these passwords actually secure?
The security afforded by a password is determined by its complexity and its secrecy. There are common rules (that you’re probably already familiar with) for creating a strong password:
- Length: At least 8 characters
- Complexity: Use UPPER and lower case, numbers, and symbols
- Uniqueness: Create a unique password for every site
Of course, the more we engage online, the more passwords we have to remember. It would be essentially impossible for most of us to remember all our passwords if we followed all those rules. So we don’t follow them.
This leaves us vulnerable: With access to even a single password, hackers may be able to gain access to the entirety of our online existence. So what’s the solution?
What is a password manager?
This is where password managers have become a valuable tool. A good password manager
- Generates strong and unique passwords (here's a good one: Kil04*LM/)
- Stores passwords securely
- Runs in the background
- Automatically fills in your username and password when you visit a website
Result? You can maintain strong, complex, and unique passwords for every site you visit.
How are password managers different?
Today, must of us save our passwords in our web browsers. There are a number of problems with this habit, though, that password managers address:
- Between work, home, school, phones, tablets, and public computers, we don’t always use the same web browser, so we still need to remember our passwords.
- Most browsers don’t use adequate security to store our passwords. The database may not be encrypted on our computers, and if you synchronize your passwords across devices they may be stored on the browsers’ servers.
- Password managers use military-grade encryption to lock down your passwords, which are never stored in a readable format on their servers.
- Browsers don’t help you create strong passwords.
- Password managers can generate long, random, complex passwords for you.
- It’s tough to keep track of our online security, and over time we develop a lax attitude that leaves us vulnerable.
- Password managers monitor our online security and encourage us to improve it, not to let it slide. They offer alerts when we use the same password across multiple sites, when a password isn’t strong enough, and when it’s time to change passwords.
Password managers also let you store secure notes, such as credit card numbers, passport information, and images (like a scan of your passport, for example). This way, you always have your critical information with you when you need, like when you’re travelling or if your wallet gets stolen.
Online security is no longer something you can afford to ignore. One way or another, everything we do has a digital connection, from banking to official interactions with government. Passwords are an outdated way to protect ourselves, but unfortunately, for the time-being they remain the only option (2-step authentication notwithstanding, an excellent addition but by no means a replacement).
Password managers add a heightened level of security to our passwords. They also add a level of complexity to our online activities, but it’s worth the effort. Over time, you’ll get used to the new process, and once you do, your online adventures will be more secure, as well as simpler.
And as always, if you have any questions or need help implementing a tool we’ve recommended, please contact us.