Have you ever stopped to think about how many online accounts you have?  15, 20, 100?  It seems that websites whether they are for online shopping, news, real estate, banking, or social media need an account for you to participate.

I started counting the number of accounts that my wife and I share. We are approaching 25 accounts just in our shared digital notebook.  Of course, with each new account you need to pick a username and a password. How often do you choose a new strong password versus using that old go-to password?

It turns out that despite our best intentions to think of a new password research shows that most Americans tend to reuse the same password for online accounts.  Over time our online presence continues to grow and so do the number of accounts that we have, so how should we handle them? Today, many people still use their mind, old-fashioned pen and paper, browser saved passwords, a password file on their smart device, or password managers.  If you are still okay with using browsers, your mind, or your pen and paper consider how secure the online world has been and will continue to be.

Both Target and Yahoo had separate data breaches in 2013. Yahoo’s data breach affected every single one of their accounts (3.3 billion in 2017). This year Facebook had 87 million users affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, did you change your passwords?

As technology changes, so do hackers and their abilities to crack passwords, perpetrate cyber-attacks, and use your account data for their benefit.  I’m not trying to sell you a password manager, but the idea that they are a good thing to consider when organizing your online accounts so you can be responsive to data breaches when they occur.  Some of the best password managers, Keeper, Dashlane, and LastPass offer the ability to store all your passwords in a secure vault that you may access from the device of your choice at a reasonable price of under $50 per year.

Each of the password managers work a little bit differently, but often have an online portal or a local app that is a secure vault for your passwords that can be used from any device. To access the vault and all the secure passwords, you need to provide your “master password” and provide an answer to a security question or input a one-time access code (two-factor authentication).  Other useful features include the ability to import passwords from browsers, web form filling, password strength reporting, secure sharing, and organize passwords into categories or folders. Password managers offer the ability to suggest/generate complex passwords or allow you to enter your own.

In an online world that continues to challenge even the most secure passwords, a password manager might be an easy way for you to protect and manage your online accounts.

Richard Reis – Network Analyst

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