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Tips & Tricks

Password Management

I have a lot of passwords. In fact I have 194 of them.  But remembering 194 of something is tough, and we typically don’t make our passwords something that can be remembered easily.  One way we try to make this easier is to use the same password for multiple accounts.  But this is not secure.  If someone hacks your Facebook account, they now have the password to your email account, and probably your bank account too.

So how about making a list of all your passwords?  Maybe a post-it note on your monitor, or on a piece of paper that you hide under your keyboard.  This sounds pretty clever but it still gives too many people physical access to your passwords.  What about putting all of your passwords in a Word document on your computer’s desktop? Better, but your passwords are still easily available to anyone with authorized access to your machine, and sometimes even to those without permission.

There is a more secure, more organized way to keep track off all of your passwords, it’s called password management software.  It’s a small program you install on your computer that lets you store all of your passwords in an encrypted database.  Encryption is important because it keeps your file safe even if someone else gains access to it.  The only way into the file is with the master password.

Password management software lets you create and store passwords for all of your accounts.  The next time you forget your login to the NY Times website you can pop open your password manager file and have your password info right there at your fingertips.  Also this software lets you store more than just your password.  You can also store your user name, and comments in case you are prompted for “Your first job”, “Your mother’s maiden name”, or “Your first car”.   I like to keep my address listed here, so when I move I know which accounts need to be updated with my new mailing address.

There are a lot of password management software options out there, some are free and some cost money.  You can search them all until you find the one that has features you are looking for.  I highly recommend KeePass Password Safe.  Its small, simple, and best of all, it’s free.