Safe Password Management

One of the headaches of the modern age is setting up passwords for each account we have online.  These add up, and it is sometimes onerous to have to

  1. create them, and
  2. remember them.

However, in this modern age, where we are increasingly relying on our digital packets of information, it is becoming even more important to have safe and secure passwords.  Hackers increasingly are hacking people's email and online account passwords to mine personal information, sometimes just to spam other people, sometimes to garner financial data.

 

Prevention is the key.

 

1) First thing to do is to create different, secure, hard to hack, passwords for each online and/or email account that you have.

There are various ways to generate safe, secure passwords.  There are many sites on the internet that will generate random characters for you:

 

Safe Password

 

It's always best to use random characters that are difficult to remember.  It will be equally hard for hackers to crack the password.

 

For some perspective on how a good password can help defeat the hackers, Businessweek has detailed stats on how long it takes to hack various levels of passwords.

 

The Economist has a more indepth article on why it's important to have "difficult passwords", and how best to create them.

 

2) Second is to save these passwords in some sort of secured database.  The bonus is that some of these Password Databases include Password generators, so you can easily create and store.

FOR MAC:

A good password safe for the Mac is "Wallet" from Acrylic software. It now integrates with varioius browsers to automatically enter secure passwords. There's also an iPhone App so that you can sync your passwords to your iPhone.  Very useful when you're away from your regular computer, and need to look up passwords.  It's $20 to download, but could really be worth it.

FOR WINDOWS:

A good password safe for Windows machines is Password Safe

AVAILABLE for both MAC & WINDOWS

There are many, but one that has received good reviews is "Dashlane".

COMPARE and CONTRAST:

Here's a few articles comparing the latest and greatest.  Some are free for basic use, and charge to share information on various devices.  Sharing on various devices DOES require using the cloud, and saving your passwords in the Cloud may defeat the purpose of using a password database, as servers can be compromised.

Comparison of available password databases from Lifehacker

Another comparison of LastPass vs Dashlane vs KeePass vs Roboformvs Sticky Password

 

3) Third is to practice safe computing when using your passwords.

More and more people are finding that their email and online account passwords are being stolen.  this happens even if their passwords are very difficult to crack.  This is because more and more hackers are able to intercept the transfer of these passwords as they are being sent over insecure wi-fi signals.  The passwords, no matter how "difficult to crack" they are, are vulnerable if being sent via an insecure wifi network to some other computer.  This can happen if you are sitting in an airport,and using an insecure (non https) connection to connect to your Gmail account, or your Yahoo account, or any other website that requires a password.  If the password is not "encrypted" using HTTPS, then it could be easily picked up by anybody with sophisticated software who's "listening in" on the wi-fi traffic.

 

If you'd like to know more about how encryption works, there's information at the EFF website.

 

One of the high profile victims of this was Ashton Kutcher, back in 2011, when he was attending a TED Conference.  Someone "listened in" to his wifi connection, and intercepted his Twitter password, and was then able to post some "unapproved Tweets".

 

One of the ways to combat this is to log in to Gmail or Yahoo or other sites that allow you to use HTTPS to log in.  It's simply a matter of typing in the URL:

 

httpS://mail.google.com

instead of

http://mail.google.com

 

You can also use a number of programs, that makes your browser automatically use HTTPS when sending a password over the internet.  A program like this is available from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and is available for Free Download.

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