Whether it’s your bank account or your WordPress website, passwords matter.
Hackers have this stuff down! They can figure out your password in record time using easy to obtain tools.
The password is your very first line of defense in keeping your information safe which means it should be on your high priority list.
Sure there are other security measures you should be taking but the password still remains the most important security tool you can use to keep yourself and your data safe.
How do I choose a good password?
Recently I was listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast, he was interviewing hacker Samy Kamkar. During the interview, Tim asked if Samy used a password manager to keep his passwords safe. Samy said, “no”. I was really surprised. (Samy Kamkar podcast.)
Instead, Samy explained his secure password generating method… song lyrics.
He uses a set of song lyrics from a favorite song that are easy to remember. It’s actually a really good idea. Song lyrics, poems, or lines from a favorite book will all work, you just need to make sure you use enough words or characters to be secure.
The current number of characters recommended for a secure password is at least 8. Kim Komando, tech specialist, in a recent USA Today article, suggests using 10 characters.
So you can take your favorite song, choose a great line with five or six words in it and, provided it isn’t a super popular song, you can consider yourself safe. If you’re a Mary Poppin’s fan, Supercalifragilisticexpealidotius… might seem like a good choice, but the hackers have already thought of it. If you’re a Journey fan, avoid “Don’t stop believing…” because, you guessed it, the hackers have already thought of it. You’ll need to get creative!
The more popular the song and the more popular the lyrics, the more likely the hackers have it stored in their dictionary of typical passwords. Yes, they have a dictionary. Wait… you said I would be secure with a great password, how can I be secure if they’ve thought of everything? Well, if you want to be really secure, you’ll need to make sure to do the following:
- Random numbers, letters, characters – example: Ty3x8$Jah# – make the best passwords.
- Use a different password for each web site – don’t repeat.
- Use at least 10 characters, the more the merrier.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
How do I remember all those passwords?
If you have a good memory, you’ll likely be okay. If your memory isn’t so good… like mine… then the very best thing you can do is get a password manager.
A password manager is program that basically stores your passwords. Here are a few of the ways a good password manager can help you keep you secure:
- It can generate a secure, mumbo-jumbo password, filled with all kinds of characters in various lengths.
- It can encrypt and save those passwords for you.
- It can make all those passwords available to you across all the devices you use, safely and securely.
- It is updated regularly to make sure it is always using the most secure features.
- Best of all, a password manager is really easy to use.
How much does a good password manager cost?
Sure, the best password managers cost money, but there are a few good free ones out there as well.
I’ve been using 1Password for a few years and like it, it’s a one-time purchase, so you pay once and you’re done. There are other, more popular password keepers like LastPass and Keeper both of which have a yearly subscription fee. PC Magazine breaks out the options and their features for you in a recent review.
Depending upon what you want to keep secure, a free password manager could be all you need. At around $12 a year, I think a paid password manager provides more peace of mind. Your data, your personal information, your business information… are all worth securing.
Yes, you can choose a great line of lyrics from your favorite nobody band, a different song for each password, memorize them, and keep them written down on a scrap of paper you keep between the mattresses, but it might just be easier to get a password manager.
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