Passwords are a necessary inconvenience. Yes, it is a pain to create and manage them, but they are vital to maintaining the security of your accounts and devices. It might seem that we are approaching the end of passwords and the emergence of biometric authentication and other such technologies, But no security method is bulletproof alone. For the near future, expect to rely on a combination of techniques, including passwords.
And, passwords do not have to be a bother. In fact, managing your passwords can be very easy, or at least easier than you think.
Generate strong passwords
There are a number of suggestions on how to create passwords, but the basic idea is that it’s hard to guess. To be clearer, we are not trying to prevent your neighbor guessing it, but rather a computer that checks dictionaries for common passwords.
That means that common words or phrases are not recommended, and passwords that use a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. Some services do not allow the use of symbols, so you need to aware of such restrictions. As far as length is concerned, the standard suggestion is at least eight characters, but 10 or more is even better.
The easiest way to create strong, random passwords is to use a password manager like 1Password, LastPass or Dashlane. These three services can create new passwords that vary in length and complexity. Besides, a computer program is much better remembering all your complex passwords than you could be.
No matter what you do, do not use any of the passwords in this list. You’re probably wondering just how easy it is to create a variety of random passwords that are hard to remember, but this is the first step. When you have a hard-to-guess password, things are simplified quite a bit because you can be pretty sure that your passwords are safe.
Stop changing your passwords so often
It has now been determined from experience that changing your passwords regularly can be more harmful than beneficial. This is mainly because people tend to choose poor passwords as replacements, which are easy to guess.
Also, before you raise your hands in frustration, the number of times you will support changing your account passwords will be limited. Most of us have so many online accounts that changing passwords for all can be an overwhelming task. So do not change them so often.
As long as you have a good random password of 10 or more characters in length, you should be fine for a long time – especially if you are also using a double factor check. Every six months or every year is probably enough and even would only be necessary for your high impact accounts, low impact accounts can last quite a bit longer.
Of course, there are times when you need to immediately change your password, such as when your service has suffered a major attack, or you have reason to suspect someone else knows your password.
When you change your password, automate it
Both LastPass and Dashlane have a very good (free) feature to help automate or partially automate password changes for leading online services.
The Dashlane feature is the most automated of the two, but both simplify the process by not requiring you to go hunting your password page in your online accounts.
These are the basic steps for managing online passwords, but they can serve you a lot to keep your accounts safe.