Forgotten your password? Please enter your email address. If I had a dollar for every time I’d reset a password I’d be at least one hundred dollars richer. And with more of our daily activities being done online, the situation is only going to get worse. It’s estimated the average person has 90 different online accounts. We bloggers have it worse than most. With affiliate accounts, email management services, and hosting accounts to add into the mix, it’s no wonder we’re all resetting passwords more than ever. But it doesn’t need to be this way. By using a free password manager, you can say goodbye to password-reset emails for good.
Passwords: The Security Measure That Is Inherently Insecure
Passwords are something of an enigma (pun intended). On the one hand, they are there to protect our data, money, and personal details. On the other hand, we have so many accounts that are password protected that we take shortcuts to help us remember them all, making them insecure at the same time. According to a study by the folks at Random Password Generator, 91% of all passwords can be found on the list of the 1,000 most common passwords. To put that another way, a hacker could access 91% of online accounts just by trying the top 1,000 passwords. With automated software it becomes a cinch.
Top Twenty Worst Passwords
A list of the most common passwords is compiled and released by SplashData each year. Here are the top twenty worst passwords from 2015:
I hope it goes without saying that you should not use any of these or similar passwords for your accounts. If you do use any of these passwords, go change it to a secure password now!
How to Choose Secure Passwords
In this digital age, we all have so many passwords that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. This often leads people to use the same password for everything or to use very simple passwords that are easy to guess. Both of these are bad! There are two rules for good password security:
- Use a unique password for every account to have.
- Use a strong password for every account you have.
What makes a strong password? Strong passwords:
- Are at least 8 characters in length
- Contain upper and lowercase letters (start your password with a lowercase letter to really bamboozle password-cracking software)
- Contain numbers
- (If allowed) contain symbols such as $ % & ? etc.
- Do not contain real words
- Do not contain any publicly available data such as your date of birth or child’s name
If designing multiple complex passwords sounds like too much work, there are many websites out there that will construct a complex password for you based on your requirements. One of my favorites is passwordsgenerator.net
Of course, a lot of complex passwords are difficult to remember and that’s when people start reusing passwords, using simple passwords, or committing another security faux pas, writing them down in a notebook and leaving it next to their workstation.
How a Password Manager Can Help
Password managers are applications that store your passwords, and other sensitive information such as passphrases, PINs, and security questions. The data is stored in an encrypted format and can only be accessed with a single strong master password that you enter when you want to access your other passwords. This means that you can use a unique, strong password (or use the password generator that comes with most password managers) on every account you own, but only need to remember one master password.
The password manager I use is Dashlane. It has a very slick interface, is very easy to use, can automatically change the passwords for 500 of the most popular websites, integrates into your browser toolbar and automatically captures and recalls login details when you visit sites without having to open the interface every time. And best of all, a basic account, packed with features, is completely free. Click the button below to learn more or to get your free Dashlane account:
Browser-Based Password Managers Are Not Safe
Some web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, have integrated password managers. These may seem convenient, however, the built-in password managers don’t measure up to dedicated password managers. Chrome and Internet Explorer store your passwords on your computer in an unencrypted form making them vulnerable to anyone who wants to view them unless you encrypt your computer’s hard drive.
Firefox does have a master password feature that allows you to encrypt your saved passwords with a single master password in the same way as most dedicated password managers. However, Firefox’s password manager isn’t a perfect solution. For example, it does not generate random passwords and it lacks many features that come as standard with dedicated managers, such as cross-platform syncing (Firefox can’t sync to iPhones for example).
Password Managers Save Time Too
As well as greatly improving your security, a password manager is also a great time saver too. Those reset your password emails soon add up you know! How many times have you wanted to sign into an account only to realise you’ve forgotten the password and have to trawl through your emails to find it? For me, it was just too many. That’s why I use a premium Dashlane account. It gives my instant access to all my accounts on all my devices. Another great feature of Dashlane is having internet access to your passwords. This means you can sign in to your accounts from any device – internet cafe, friend’s PC, girlfriend’s phone, anything. You only need to remember a single, secure password to access all your accounts. It’s a no-brainer if you ask me.