Unless you’ve been in a cave, don’t know what the internet is, or have never tried online banking at Dane County Credit Union, you have lots of passwords. I came to the realization about a year ago that my current way of storing passwords in a file was not working anymore. What was the solution for me? I started by asking friends what they use. I Googled “Password Manager” and started reading reviews on PC Mag and CNET. I looked closer at a few of the top password manager (PM) choices such as Dashlane, RoboForm and the one I ended up using, called LastPass, which my co-worker recommended.
The PM installed quickly and immediately scoured my internet browser for stored password. I selected the ones that I wanted to keep and discarded the rest. The PM then cleans your machine of any stored passwords. The next step for me was to work my password file, visit my sites, and store the passwords. This process can take a lot of time so be patient. Do a bit at a time and the task won’t seem so daunting. Once I completed the entry process, I was able to delete the old password file. I quickly found that I was just getting started. My security rating according to the PM was quite low due to duplicate and less than stellar passwords.
My favorite feature of the PM is the Secure Password Generator. The program allows me select the complexity of each password. I typically will use the maximum amount of characters that a site will allow. The modern sites go up to at least 50 alpha numeric or special characters. In the course of two weeks my entire password portfolio was converted to distinct complex passwords. The process took longer than I expected, however I now feel that my online presence is about as secure as it can be.
Here are my top 5 tips for securing your passwords.
- Try a PM out before converting your entire password portfolio. Most programs have free light versions. You’ve got to like using it and the program has to be easy to use.
- Consider using a strong passphrase for your master password. This is the password that you will enter each time you login to the PM. Change this at least every 90 days.
- Find a PM that has a Portable Edition – you’ll want to consider using one on your mobile device.
- Use one that provides you an up-to-date security rating. The program reviews your database and tells you if you have duplicates, vulnerable, or weak passwords. You’ll want to review this periodically and give yourself a tune up.
- Use as complex of a generated password that a site will allow, especially for online banking and other accounts with sensitive confidential information.
Good luck and I hope that you consider a password manager (PM) today.