Psst —What’s the Password?

By Joshua Zerkel

Follow these tips for managing your many logins and passwords.

In the age of living your life online—banking, bills, video rentals, social media, work, email, and so on—keeping track of all your passwords is essential. Many people simply put their passwords on a sticky note stuck right on their monitors—something I definitely don’t recommend. Nor would I suggest using a little booklet specifically for passwords, like the ones they sell in the Container Store. Although these methods keep your passwords centralized, they are not at all secure. (If you are keeping your passwords written down on paper somewhere, make sure they are kept in a locked drawer or cabinet.)

Far better than writing your passwords down is to keep them in a locked file or database on your computer. You could make an excel spreadsheet that is password protected, so that only you can open it (of course, you’ll need to memorize the password to get into your password document!).

You could also purchase a password management tool, which is what I use and recommend.

There are two great programs I recommend: KeePass or RoboForm. KeePass is free, but RoboForm as a few more additional features that might be worthwhile to you. In essence however they work the same. Once you install the program on your computer, you unlock the database with your master password and then you input the websites, user names, passwords, and any notes for the accounts you are keeping track of. All the data that is stored in those databases is encrypted, so if someone tried to hack into it, it would require a lot of effort, so long as they don’t have your master password.

A similar option to KeePass and RoboForm is an online password management tool called LastPass, which essentially works the same way, but it stores your password data online via a secure server, rather than on your home computer. There are pros and cons to doing it this way. The pros are that you have access to your passwords no matter where you are, and you don’t lose all your passwords if your computer bites the dust. The con, however, is that your passwords are stored on someone else’s server, so in theory they could get hacked. If you are considering using something online like LastPass, be sure to look at the company’s security and privacy policies so that you can feel confident about storing your data with them.

10.3.13-guru-joshuazerkel

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