We need to talk about your passwords.
We’ve all been there. You’re having to sign up for yet another account, and you’re out of password ideas. So you use THAT password. Your favorite password. The password you use for everything.
No big deal, right? There’s too many to keep track of, and this one’s easy to remember.
Maybe you did come up with a new one, so you wrote it down on that piece of paper you keep by your computer.
None of that is a good idea. I know that. You know that. I know that you know that. Yet, we still do it anyway.
EVERYONE has had their data compromised at some point with all these big companies getting hacked. Your favorite password isn’t safe anymore. Plus, as a person who has had their house burglarized in broad daylight, I can tell you that having your passwords written down near your computer is a bad idea.
Use complicated passwords
Complicated passwords are a pain, because they’re hard to remember. However, they’re harder for people to guess and harder for automated hacking programs to randomly generate and guess. That’s what makes them more secure.
Use different passwords
If one of your accounts ever gets compromised (and one will…just give it time), it’s best that the password associated with it is only linked to THAT account. If someone nefarious gets a hold of it, what’s to stop them from trying it on other accounts to see if it works?
Don’t write them down
It’s easy to have a notebook or a piece of paper by your computer where you keep all of your passwords. However, passwords are supposed to keep your account secure. If you’ve got them written down near your computer, anybody that gets access to your computer can also have all of that information at their fingertips.
When I was younger and still lived at home with my parents, our house got burglarized in broad daylight. They took all of our computers, electronics, jewelry, and looked around for anything else they could take…including my hair products! Some thug was walking around with big, sexy hair.
But I’m getting off topic…
If we had written down our passwords, they would have taken them too. Crooks know to snoop around and look for these things. Save yourself the headache of identity theft and just don’t do it.
Use two-factor authentication
Maybe you’ve seen sites ask you if you want to enable this, but you didn’t know what it was so you skipped it. Basically, two-factor authentication gives you another layer of security, in addition to your password. I highly recommend enabling this on anything connected to your money.
How it works might be different for each site. Some sites may text you an extra code you have to enter after your password. For others, you can pre-select an image, and every time you sign in you click on that image out of a big group of them.
Example: Your image is the crescent moon, so you have to select it out of all of these images when you sign up.
Another option may be using an authenticator app. You link your account to it by scanning a QR code once, and then, when you open the authenticator, you just type in the code it shows. The codes change every 60 seconds, so that’s how it stays secure.
I’m officially overwhelmed…How do I keep up with all this stuff??
The easiest solution to this issue is to get a password manager, which will not only store all of your passwords so you don’t have to remember them, but also generate secure ones and auto-fill them online. All you have to remember is one big, strong password to unlock it.
I’ve used LastPass as a password manager for years, and I really like it. When I started this blog, I applied to be an affiliate because I knew it was a product I’d recommend anyway. So, just know that if you sign up for a paid account with them, I’ll receive a small commission.
There are three account options for LastPass–free, premium, and family.
If you’re a single user, the free version is probably all you need. It works on multiple devices, including mobile devices. It will store all of your passwords, automatically generate new complicated ones when you’re signing up for new accounts, and auto-fill them on computers and mobile devices.
Honestly, I don’t see the point of the premium account. It used to be that you had to have premium to use LastPass on more than one device, but that’s now been added to the free version. The premium gives you the option of sharing information with other LastPass users, but, if you’re doing that, it’s probably a family member…so just do the family version and save yourself the hassle.
If LastPass doesn’t thrill you, there are plenty of other password managers out there to try. Just make sure you choose one and actually use it. I know it’ll take time to get things transferred into it and change some of your repeated/less secure passwords, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. I can’t believe I waited as long as I did. It’s so nice to not have to stress about remembering them all. My brain can only handle so much these days.