We're all very familiar with the need for secure passwords. But keeping track of all of them is a real pain in the you know what. Getting older doesn't make it any easier.
As more and more of our lives move online, we can have twenty or more passwords for everything from email, to banks, credit cards, investment accounts, dating apps, home security, cell phone, Facebook, Netflix, Apple, Quickbooks, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, and so much more.
What you don't want to do is have one password for every account. While easy to remember, it opens you up to having your identity easily stolen (there are more than 20 million passwords for sale online right now!). All someone has to do is steal your password from one site, or buy it on a hacker forum, and they'll have access to every one of your accounts. That's scary.
If we learned anything over the past few years, it's that no website, no matter how large the company, how advanced their technology, or how well intended their security, is immune from getting hacked and placing your passwords at risk.
CapitalOne, Equifax, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Marriott, eBay, Target, TJ Max, Uber, JP Morgan Chase, PlayStation, Home Depot, Adobe... have all been hacked.
So what's the solution to creating unique, complex passwords for each of your websites, while still being able to remember them all? A password manager.
What is Password Manager?
At its most basic, a password manager stores all of your passwords (and other frequently used information like addresses and credit cards) in one location. All you have to do is log in to your password manager. The password manager will then automatically fill in your password when you're logging into a website. It's that really simple to use, secure, effective and saves a ton of time.
Why Use a Password Manager
Here's why we like using a password manager:
1. It makes it easy to store, find and use all your passwords.
2. It makes it easy to have unique and complex passwords for each website, increasing your security. Some password managers will even generate random, secure passwords for you, so you don't unconsciously re-use old passwords.
3. It makes it easy to update passwords. If one of your accounts gets hacked, just go to your password manager and update that password or all of them. Some password managers periodically update your passwords for you. Quick and simple.
4. It makes it easy for loved ones to find your passwords. In the event of an accident or death, you can give access to your password manager to loved ones, so your family can quickly and easily access financial and insurance accounts and records.
5. Some password managers will store auto-fill data, like your address and credit card information, to make check-out on e-commerce sites easier and quicker.
Recommended Password Managers
There are a slew of password managers available. We've used the following 3 and liked them all for different reasons:
1. 1Password: Our favorite password manager (and probably most trusted out there), but it only comes in a paid version, for $35.88 a year, but you can try it for free for 30 days. It works with almost any browser and device, has a very simple interface and optional 2 factor authentication for extra security. It's easy to control who share information with and you can even get a family plan for up to 5 people and share passwords, credit cards, etc. with the gang.
2. LastPass: Last pass has a simple free version which we like. It even allows you to use the free version across multiple devices.. But if you want to add emergency contacts, 2 factor authentication or share information with select people, you need to get the paid version.
3. Dashlane: If you're looking for a free version, we prefer LastPass, because Dashlane only gives you access to their free version on one device. The paid version is just as good as 1Password, but it costs more ($59.88) and we're not sure what you're getting more of in return.
How to Make Your Passwords More Secure
The best ways to secure your passwords are:
- Have a different password for every site.
- Make sure your passwords are complex, not 1234567 or 123abc. They should have at least 8 characters with at least 3 different types of characters, i.e. upper case, lower case, letter, number and a symbol.
- Use two factor authentication where available, but especially for your financial websites. Two factor authentication will ask you to enter your password, and will then send you a separate message via phone or text with another pass code, and ask you to enter it into on their website.
The challenge of course, is how in the world do you remember 20 or more unique and complex passwords! The answer? A password manager.
Good luck. Let us know what you think!