Staying Safe with a Password Manager


Coming up with good passwords is tough. If it’s easy to remember, it’s probably easy to guess. Your spouse’s name, your pet’s name, and the street you live on are all on the guessing lists crooks use.

If it’s hard to remember, you have to write it down. Then someone else could see it. You probably have passwords for lots of accounts. How will you keep them all safe from theft and from bad memory?

Using the same password everywhere is a bad idea. A thief who grabs it from a weakly protected site will try it out on your other accounts. You can keep a list of all your passwords on your desk, but that has obvious problems.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. It’s called a password manager. All the major browsers offer this feature. Each time you enter a password, it will offer to save it. That way, you can create a difficult and unique password for each account and not worry about remembering it. You just need one strong password, the one that unlocks the password manager. That’s not too much to memorize.

You still need to write down all your passwords, in case your computer dies or the password manager breaks. But you can keep the list locked away in a safe place, not where you have to keep pulling it out for reference.

If you’re nervous about getting your password automatically filled in for you, you can turn off the autofill option. Then it will fill in the password only when you click in the username field and select your name. You can tell the password manager not to save passwords that are especially critical, like the one for your bank account. It’s all under your control.

Some managers include password generators. They save you the trouble of thinking of a long and obscure string of characters when you start a new account. Just be sure to copy it accurately into the list that stays in the locked drawer.

Online criminals are persistent, and they use software that automates password guessing. You need a difficult password for every account you have. Password managers take the pain out of maintaining them.

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