Thanks for the memories, password manager.

by Tony Gamble

locked-ipadHow secure is your password? There is a website out there that helps you answer that very question. In my line of work, I’m privy to a lot of passwords and I’m frequently horrified at how weak some of them are. You hear a lot of media horror stories about accounts being hacked, so what stops us from putting more effort into creating more robust passwords? Because we don’t like to have to remember things. I find my life is exciting enough without having to memorize long strings of numbers, letters and symbols for each and every website, app and device requires. What can one do when one is regularly faced with the inability to remember yesterday’s dinner?

My preferred method is a lovely companion called 1Password, a small app that is available for Windows, Mac and mobile. It works like a secure storage locker for your all of your passwords. Not just passwords for websites, but for applications on your computer, identities for autofill, financials and more. With this one app, you have but to remember one password… so make it a good one. In Web browsing, logging in is now a simple matter of clicking the 1Password widget to autofill your login screen.

It even works across multiple devices. I have 1Password on my iMac and it shares the same passwords library as the sister app on both my iPad and iPhone. These iOS versions even have their own built-in browser.

1Password Lock ScreenOf course, 1Password is not the only option out there. LastPass gets rave reviews from tech pundits I respect immensely, like Leo Laporte, mastermind behind the TWiT network. I’ve not tried it myself, but everything I hear about LastPass sounds like it’s every bit as great as 1Password. You’ll need the Premium version if you want to use it on the iPhone, though.

For that little extra layer of comfort, you can compound your security with a physical device like a USB stick. This little gem from SplashData comes in the shape of a throwback tool from yesteryear, a key! These devices also tend to come with some storage for your most sensitive documents and extra features like anti-keylogger protection.

You can even detach yourself completely from the cloud and the desktop with an offline password manager like The Password Vault. With no cloud connection, or connection of any kind for that matter, devices like this provide a solid, low-tech solution.

Whichever password management tool you decide to use, use it to its fullest potential. Create for yourself that one really great password and let the rest eat gobbley-gook. Use the built-in password generators or sites like StrongPasswordGenerator.com to confound the hackers’ tools.

Now go change those passwords.

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