Until now, you have probably scraped by satisfactorily using the same passwords for multiple sites, or even the same password for years. Those days are over. Securing your passwords is serious business. In fact, LinkedIn has a $5 million class action lawsuit filed against it after the company announced that Russian hackers compromised 6.5 million of its customer's passwords. eHarmony (up to 1.5 million) and LastFM (up to 2.5 mil) also reported compromised passwords recently.
If you choose to use online accounts, you are at the mercy of the companies administering the accounts. You have to trust that they comply with industry standards and technologies, and that they can keep your passwords secure. However, there are things you can do to maintain secure passwords and login information using password management software.
So, how do you protect passwords? Industry experts and technology commentators now highly recommend that you use a password manager to help prevent password hacking. Here are some ways that password managers can protect your passwords:
Using Long Passwords
Simple passwords consisting of words and sequential numbers are often the first to be hacked. Unless you have an exceptional memory, you cannot remember long, complex passwords for numerous accounts. Most experts now suggest that you use passwords that are at least 12 characters long. Password managers can create and save long passwords (some up to 512 characters) using a combination of letters, numbers, symbols and spaces. These are nearly impossible for hackers to crack.
Changing Your Passwords Often
Like many other people, you might have been using the same password for years, despite warnings to the contrary. When you create a password file using password management software, the best applications will ask you to enter an expiration date for that password. The software will then either alert you when a password is about to expire, or provide you with an expired password report so that you know when you need to change your passwords.
Preventing Redundant Password Use
Since many of us have a hard time remembering passwords, we often use the same password for numerous accounts. This is a problematic practice. If even one account you use that password for is hacked, every other account protected by that password is also vulnerable. Password managers can remember all your passwords for you and enter them automatically, so the burden of remembering them is removed. This allows you to use complex, unique passwords for each of your accounts.
Keyloggers are malicious applications that attempt to obtain account numbers, contact information, usernames and passwords by logging every key you press on your keyboard. Since password management software enters your login information automatically, it does not log any keystrokes and therefore prevents keyloggers from capturing your information. When you add a new account, top password management software provides a virtual keyboard that you can use to enter new account information while bypassing keyloggers.
Avoiding Phishing Scams
Phishing scams attempt to trick people into entering information on what they believe are trusted sites but are in fact fake copies posing as the trusted sites they resemble. Using a password manager, you can login into trusted URLs directly from the software, bypassing phishing attempts completely.
Keeping Your Passwords Secret
Sometimes the people attempting to steal your passwords are closer than you think. Teenagers can be notorious for attempting to try to obtain their parents passwords for things like Netflix, mobile phone accounts and parental control software. On the other hand, coworkers or those who might be able to see your computer screen might take advantage of you if they see your bank account or credit card logins. Password managers can mask usernames, account numbers and passwords from view. In addition, virtual keyboards also mask keystrokes. Some even erase items from the clipboard for an additional layer of protection.
The reason many of us have not yet employed the security methods that experts recommend to protect our passwords is that we cannot remember numerous complex passwords. Password managers remove this excuse because they do everything for you. They create, save and secure complex passwords. They remind you when to change them. They even automatically log you in to your accounts.
Many software developers also provide portable and mobile versions of their password managers so that you can always have access to your account information regardless of which computer you use to access those accounts. Although online account providers are responsible for maintaining the security of your information on their servers, password managers help you do your part to secure your login information on your end. Do yourself a long-term favor by implementing stringent security methods for your accounts using the password management software that's right for you.
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