July 14, 2020

Reuse, Reduce and Recycle, except when it comes to Passwords

We live in a world where we have to remember passwords for an enormous amount of accounts. Email, social media, bank accounts, credit cards, utilities, online shopping, school accounts, video streaming, and the list goes on and on. There are so many passwords that it is hard to keep track. Many people have resorted to recycling the same password and utilizing in all accounts across the board minimizing the risk of forgetting one and not being able to access an account when needed. I was one of those people.

While recycling is good for the environment, this type of password recycling is definitely not the best idea. As I found out the hard way, when one company gets hacked (and it happens more often than we would like to admit), the hackers get access to information like account emails and passwords, names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. Any information that you have been asked for when setting up an account may be vulnerable. For some sites, that information is limited, but others keep a great deal of information on file, like addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, etc.

Once hackers have access to all of this information, it is easy for them to access all the accounts where that password was recycled. They are able to access bank accounts, social media sites, online streaming, hospital health profiles, etc. Many of these accounts contain sensitive information and can lead to very damaging consequences.

The best solution to this password conundrum is using a password manager. There are many out there and they provide different benefits depending on its use, but the main advantage is that you only have to remember one password. And that is the password to your password manager. These programs are able to generate passwords that would take hackers years to crack. And, let’s be honest, they don’t have the time or patience to sit there for years trying to crack a Netflix password to access a list of B-rated movies on my suggested list.

Once you have selected a password manager that best suits your needs, it is important to make the password to the password manager hard to crack, but easy to remember.  What does that mean? Many hackers use programs to try to solve a password and they start by trying every combination possible. It takes time, even for a computer program, to go through that many password combinations. Make it long and, if it’s easy to remember, add a lever of difficulty for them to overcome. Add symbols or numbers. Replace all the As with 4s or the Ls with !s. Make it as hard as the wifi passwords on the back of every router in the world.

Now that I use a password manager, I can’t imagine going back to trying to come up with passwords anymore. It saves me time and stress, but most importantly, it keeps my information and accounts safe

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