Passwords are like underwearPosted: 25 August 2011
Have you ever heard the saying, “passwords are like underwear?” Yep. That’s because
- you shouldn’t leave them lying around;
- you should change them often; and
- it’s best if you don’t share them with your friends.
You’ve heard the advice about choosing good passwords. They should be long — like sixteen characters (!) — contain at least one number, a mixture of capitals and lowercase, and at least one symbol. They shouldn’t contain the name of your pet or loved one, or the date of your anniversary of starting at your place of employment, et cetera.
Then there’s the other bits of advice. For one thing, you’re supposed to use different passwords for different accounts. Your Yahoo e-mail password should never be the same as your bank password, for example.
Also, you’re not supposed to write out your password and put it on a piece of paper in your drawer, or worse, on a sticky note on your monitor.
So, you might ask, “If they tell me to make my passwords basically unreadable and difficult to memorize, change them every 45 days or so, use different passwords for everything I ever sign up for, and never write any of them down in a visible place, will I be spending my life memorizing and creating passwords?”
The answer is… yes, you will.
At present I have over 400 passwords, and actively use maybe twenty or thirty of those. How am I supposed to remember all of them?
The answer: I don’t. I use a password manager to keep all my passwords in one place, and keep them secure. I have created a strong password to protect that database, so I don’t have to remember 400 passwords, I just have to remember one.
Try this out. I can recommend several good utilities if you’re interested.
I personally like KeePass Password Safe. This generates secure passwords for me and allows me to categorize them in an encrypted database. I synchronize that password database between several different computers by saving it in my Dropbox. Dropbox gives you a synchronized folder. When you save files to your Dropbox folder, you can access any of those files, from any of your devices. You can install a 2GB Dropbox for free from https://www.dropbox.com/ (or get an extra 250MB by using my Dropbox referral link).
A buddy of mine at work recommends RoboForm, and has used it for years with success. They have a Pro version (very affordable at $9.95 for unlimited devices), or a free trial you can use. I heard from her recently that with your purchase, they also offer a sync service, which you can use to keep all your passwords synchronized between different devices.
Another friend of mine likes LastPass, the online password manager and form filler. You’ve no doubt heard about their widely publicized security breach earlier this year. However they appear to have remedied the issue quite promptly, and to have learned from the issue.