The rapid growth of the internet goes hand in hand with the constant evolution of online practices. As users, we are continually faced with new opportunities and challenges, foremost of which is the ever-topical issue of staying safe online. For many people passwords are a real issue.
The reality is that remembering lots of different passwords isn’t practical for most people, and writing them down or storing them on a PC isn’t safe. Most people end up using the same or similar passwords for lots of different sites.
Well, most websites will use your email address as a username, so if you’re using the same password in multiple places, it only takes one of the websites that you have used it on to get hacked, and suddenly many of your online accounts are vulnerable. Maybe hackers got into a tiny site that you hardly ever use, but now using the same details they can gain access to your PayPal, personal email, company network and to a great deal of your private information.
Fortunately, there is a solution - Password Management Software. There are several options out there, at EMSL we use LastPass. It’s a secure program which ensures a very high level of protection for your accounts. The idea is quite simple – you remember one ‘hard to crack’ master password and the program generates and remembers multiple very complex passwords for all of your different accounts. In all honesty, they are all cumbersome and frustrating to set up and get used to – but once you’ve been through that process there can be no doubt that they will help keep you safer.
All that remains is to choose a rock solid master password. The latest thinking by experts in the field is to do away with changing passwords regularly and they advise that just replacing letters with UPPER CASE or numbers (Em4rK3ting) isn’t good enough anymore. It actually takes longer for a computer to crack a random mix of words or letters (e.g. ‘pig coffee wandered black’), so one technique for inventing such a password is to think of a collection of words that are related in your memory but not obviously related to anyone else. Another technique is to use the first letter of each word in a favourite quotation or song lyric. If you love Humpty Dumpty, your password might be HDSOTWHDHAGF or even better !hd50twHDHAGF!
Better still, many of the Password Managers will tell you how many of your existing passwords are weak or duplicated, and whether any of your logins are at risk or compromised. Some, including LastPass, even allow you to upgrade to share passwords with colleagues – which can be really handy too!
So if you’re struggling to remember all of your passwords – and you’re ready to take the leap and sort things out once and for all – consider a password manager like LastPass. After the pain of getting yourself set up, it’s genuinely worth it.