“I Forgot My Password! Help?”
With between 50 and 500 user accounts, the idea that we’re going to use a new password for every site, never write them down, not store them in my browser, and then somehow always remember them can sound impossible. Luckily, there’s some super simple patterns and tools that can keep you from worrying about this ever again.
I’ll get into all of the reasons why these steps are so important afterwards, but let’s jump into the meat and potatoes of what you can do first:
A Good Password is Defined by the Length
Tools that hackers use to crack passwords can get through a short password easily, but the longer your password is, the more impossible your password becomes to crack.
How to Remember Your Password Without Writing it Down
These two passwords are equally effective against hackers: (h897j$-mdjygt65 or LongWalks4Ever’:D)
But if you use the first one, it’s nearly impossible for a human to remember, whereas the second one can easily be remembered, meaning you don’t have to write it down or store it in a file.
Use Guidelines to Vary Your Password Across All of Your Accounts
Step 1: Come up with at least two great passwords. Be sure to use a mix of capital and lowercase letters, and at least one special character and number. One can be used for sites that you’re not sure are super secure, or when you know you’ll be sharing that password with family or coworkers. Never share the second one, and use it for accounts that require higher security, such as your bank, credit cards, and any accounts where you’ve granted them the ability to store your credit card to. For example:
Step 2: Make Your Passwords Conditional, Based on the Site You’re on. If you use a pattern, it makes it easy to modify your password for every website. Here’s how your password might change across these three accounts:
Here, we’ve taken the last two letters of the web address and added them to the beginning of your password. There’s plenty of patterns you can use too. Maybe you take the first letter, or first three letters, and put it at the end of your password instead. Feel free to choose your own pattern here that makes the most sense to you, but then stick to it every time.
Password Managers are Safe
Password managers are cloud based vaults that store your passwords for all of your accounts and can sync them across all of your devices. Further, they allow you to share your passwords with others, allowing them to log into the account without ever getting access to the password. This is critical for business owners who share passwords with employees, but then may want to revoke access after their staff moves on. They’re also great for family accounts, as well as a very kind thing to include in your will, so that your family can close up your digital life when that day arrives.
Storing Your Passwords in an Unsafe Browser
I know I alluded to this above, but it’s a big one, especially if you run a business or store them on your work computer. When using browsers such as Chrome, Edge/IE or Firefox to store your passwords, anyone with physical access to your computer can easily view all of them in about three clicks, and even download them to a file. Further, your passwords are stored on your computer instead of in the cloud. Meaning if there’s a problem with your computer or your browser all of your passwords can be lost. And of course, security issues are compounded if you’ve got multiple devices that you’re doing this across. Using a password manager in these situations can be life changing.
The one exception is if all of your devices are Apple products. Safari uses Apple’s password manager iCloud Keychain, which they’ve built to sync across all of your devices. But if you’re not completely invested into the Apple ecosystem, we recommend using a password manager for all of your other devices.
Storing Passwords on a File or in Your Email
Writing down your passwords is just as bad as storing them in your browser, as anyone with physical access to your work area can access them. Storing them on a file on your computer can also be problematic as hackers will often try to steal all of the files on your computer in hopes you’ve done this. Storing them in your email is also problematic for two reasons, first is that it’s another common target for hackers and second is that you actually give more companies and people than you realize the ability to read your email.
Here at FruitStand, we love technology, but we also know it can be super stressful, especially when it’s not working as expected. Maybe we can help? Feel free to tell us a few your tech woes, especially those you think might make a great blog article, and we’ll do our best to bring you some peace and clarity.