The most stressful thing for my clients is keeping track of passwords.
Here is how to avoid that stress.
System #1 The Same Password for Every Site (Bad)
The wrong way is to try to have the same password for everything. There are several problems with this approach. First is that you can’t have the same username with everything. So while you may remember your password, you still can’t log in.
Secondly, having the same password for everything is foolish for security reasons.
You can improve this system by having three passwords.
- A standard password for sites that make you get a password but don’t have important information, like the New York Times.
- Recommendation: 8 characters that are not found in a dictionary.
- A secure password for sites that have important info like Gmail and Facebook.
- Recommendation: 10 characters with numbers and capital letters
- A super secure password for banking and online payment sites.
- Recommendation: 14 characters with numbers, capital letters and symbols.
Even with this system you will need a solution for remembering your username. My recommendation is to use your email address for every username even if they don’t ask for an email.
System #2 Secure Paper Pad (Better)
Some people keep a little black book by their desk. This is better than having the same password for everything. The downside is that it gives full access to your life to whoever has access to your desk. If someone finds that book, you’re in trouble.
This system works best when you can lock the notepad in your desk. Sticky notes don’t count.
System #3 1Password (Best)
This is what I use. 1password keeps track of all your passwords in one place automatically. It then encrypts those passwords in a digital lockbox that is much more secure than a piece of paper.
How to get 1Password
- Step 1: Go to 1password.com and click “try free.”
- Step 2: download 1Password.
- Step 3: Install the 1Password. The installer will walk you through the steps.
- Step 4: Follow instructions to install browser plugins.
That’s it! Once you start using 1password you will wonder how you ever lived without it.
What system do you use?
Do you use a different system for keeping track of your passwords?
If so share your system below in the comments.
Thanks, thats very helpful
I put all my passwords and user names in a spreadsheet in Word, which I password protect. To do this: open a document, then click the yellow office button in the upper left corner. Choose File/Prepare/Encrypt Document and choose a master password. When you close, then reopen the file, the screen appears blank and it demands your password. I have one special place to hide my master password plus told a few loved ones where it is. Thomas, do you see any problem with this system? I know if I give the computer away I need to destroy the file.
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Telling a few loved ones how to access your passwords is a very wise idea. This way if something were to happen to you your online presence would not be lost.
The encrypted word document is a great idea. The only downside is that it does not integrate with your browser so its a lot of copy and paste work. So 1password would save you time but your system saves you money. Great job making use of the tools you have.
I use a hybrid approach for most low to mid security passwords. I combine a word related to the product or website that I readily remember, with a standardized addition of numbers and letters. It's not the most secure, but is easy enough to remember and so far has been adequate for moderate security needs where my social security or financial information is not involved. Where my credit cards are stored online, I regularly check balances and statements for unauthorized use—which should be done no matter what security system one uses.
For online banking I use a much more difficult (i.e., secure) password, which I remember easily because I use only one site.
I think another thing to consider is simplicity. People get so enamored with all the great possibilities on the web that they don't exercise enough discernment in what they really need or in how to keep things simple.
Thomas, thank you for this valuable information. This is what I do. I think I can improve using encryption. And more characters.
I have a very simple password for sights that do not require money transactions. If they require money I add numbers. If its my bank account I use a combination of letters, capital or not,characters and numbers. I also have a list of passwords that I created on Word and then deleted. I keep this list in my safe. The passwords for clients I keep in their file and keep it locked and then security for the house.
That's a pretty good system. I would just recommend that your email has one of the stronger passwords since your email is a tool for recovering other passwords. Plus you don't want someone to hack your account and spam your friends.
Another tool I have heard suggested is lastpass. Its like 1password but free.
You can find it at http://lastpass.com/
I use KeePass (http://keepass.info/), or KeePassX (http://www.keepassx.org/), depending on whether I happen to be using Windows or a Mac.
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I use Lastpass. It works well.
I like the DataShield Software. It allows you to store all your passwords by category with just one password to unlock them all. I like this way best because I'm only using someones software to store my passwords, not entrusting all my passwords to some company to keep them safe.
The "Welcome to 1Password YouTube video" stated that "making browsing on a Mac more convenient…" I do not have a Mac. I have a laptop PC, integrated with an iPhone and when I am at my office, hooked into a server. Is 1 Password for me? Or has something come up since that is better for PCs?
1Password is also available for the PC. It also can sync to an iphone and iPad.
KeePass is the shit. I always use it, effective software and free.
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LastPass here for about 6 months. Very pleased with it so far.
Somehow I came upon this older post of yours, but it’s always a timely topic.
I think my system most closely matches your 3 password format. I have a base word then tag onto it depending on the type of site.
ie: groupon might be: basewordshopping, while email might be: basewordemail
I also have a standard numeric tag I use at the end.
I have a master list of all passwords with my will in the safe …just in case…