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You may think you’re not that interesting, that if something happened and your password got nabbed by some villains that they wouldn’t find anything of value anyway. I encourage you to consider graffiti – arguably it’s there “because”. I also encourage you to read this heart wrenching story about how Mat Honan lost all his precious baby photos through social engineering. The story is from 2012 – but this stuff is happening more and more, even worse – its happening “just because”.

The end result of not having your passwords protected could be far worse than merely losing all your money. I know – that seems pretty bad, but imagine losing all your family photos – once gone, they’re gone!

Plastic baby keys - my first password manager

Keys are so important we teach them young!

Passwords need to be managed – Remember what you’re protecting

You need a password manager because you can’t possibly remember all the unique, strong and regularly changing passwords that you should have. If you are one of the teeny-tiny percentage of people who reasonably could remember your 25 average logins, I bet you’re too lazy to actually do it. The rest of us don’t want to habitually go through the most secure, yet least convenient option of them all: Let the cat choose your password by having them walk on the keyboard then use the “I forgot my password link” every. single. time. The most secure password you’ll ever have is the one you can’t actually remember.

You’ve got options

The clone approach

All your passwords are the same. This is bad. If you’re doing this then skip straight to Password Mangers

The layered approach

Some people like to have three or four passwords that offer their logins varying “levels of access”. It’s better than using the same password absolutely everywhere in the same way that its better to have air-bags deploy in a car accident – they’ll probably still knock you out and you’re better off not having an accident at all! On top of that you’d be surprised who has been the source of leaking private information

Pretty Password Patterns

Others like to use patterns when selecting their passwords. It makes them easy to remember, and easy to guess. Randal Munroe is a very clever guy – he explains:

xkcd - Password Strength

Randall Munroe describes what we’re doing wrong with passwords using math

 

Picking a Password Manager

So you’ve decided that a password manager is for you. Perhaps because you don’t trust the bad guys not to try break all the things, or (like everyone else) you can’t be bothered remembering all the strong passwords and changing them regularly. There’s still a choice to be made: Which one?

Free

If you’re a bit low on funds there are free options out there – they’re just not quite as convenient as they could be.  DashLane and LastPass both offer freemium products. The catch: you won’t be able to sync across all your devices. If you do all your computing on your single laptop or desktop then this might be the option for you. But remember to have a backup!!

Paid

If you want to just pay for it, here are a few solid options: LastPass, DashLane, 1Password. There are varying prices and features among these three, but as ever make sure you have a working, up to date backup.

Built in

Apple have a product called Keychain – if you’re using a mac you may have already seen this guy. If you haven’t noticed it then type this: ⌘ + “Space” + “keychain”. Go have a look at how many of your passwords it’s sucked up.

Open Source

Publicly scrutinised code is a pretty good option when it comes to rating the security (but remember nothing is 100% secure). If you are willing to invest some time in setting it up (or having it set up) this is a great option – especially if you’re not fond of handing your info over to someone else to look after. Try KeePass.

Other important (boring) stuff to do

While you’re on a roll with your security – make sure you have a backup copy of your 2 factor authentication codes. Print them out and put them in your safe, or encrypt them on a flash drive that’s not plugged into your computer!

Image Source:
flickr photo by christinakessler http://flickr.com/photos/86024504@N05/9832192933 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Cotton wool cloud with devices raining out of it

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