I am shocked at how often people give me their passwords, and even more shocked by the passwords they give me. Often it is a variation of their name with 123456 after it, or some other ridiculously easy password such as their actual name or my favorite password of all time, the ingenious “password” password. In December, a security breach at Gawker.com impacted 1.2 million accounts, 500,000 emails and 185,000 passwords. An analysis of the breach confirmed that the majority of users are using the simplest of passwords to hack.
I manage my business and my household online. I save files in the cloud, have email in the cloud, and connect with clients, customers and prospects in blogs and on social networks online. Additionally, I manage my checkbook, balance my business books and even buy stocks online. As we spend more time online the need for secure passwords increases. It is overwhelming to remember all of the different passwords for the sites we use, but sadly, not all sites can or will keep your password information secure. Imagine what someone of ill will could do knowing your “standard” password that you use on more sensitive sites.
In addition to backing up all my data, I regularly change my passwords. This process simply wouldn’t be manageable for me without a password manager.
I used to use a spreadsheet with a hard copy in my safe deposit box, but it was impossible to keep it maintained. These days, it seems like I am added new passwords weekly, if not daily. Fortunately, password management is not as difficult as it used to be.
There are a variety of different password managers you can use. I have been a raving fan of 1Password for more than a year. 1Password works within the browser to help you save and remember unique passwords for different sites. Previously 1Password was only available on the Mac but they now offer it for PC as well. 1Password can also sync with your iPhone, iPad and android phones so you can access your passwords where ever you are.
Of course, all of these password managers are only as secure as your master password, so choose that wisely.
If you don’t want to use a password manager, find another system to remember unique, secure passwords for all the different online services you use. Sacrificing your security simply for convenience just isn’t worth it.