Early on I was guilty as I’m sure many of you are (unfortunately to this day) of using the same password for several accounts, sites, etc. After all you pick a password that you can remember and you start using it everywhere. Even if it’s a “secure” password by today’s standards (random letters, numbers, symbols, long, etc.) the problem is that if that password is ever hacked or exposed there is nothing to stop the hacker/thief from trying it in other places. For example, big name sites like LinkedIn and others have had recent situations where their user’s passwords were stolen and then POSTED on the web for the world to see. As quickly as LinkedIn found out they immediately reset the password of those exposed and forced users to pick NEW passwords. As a LinkedIn subscriber I was only mildly annoyed and concerned about this. Although my account was not one of the ones exposed, I knew that even if it was the password I was using on Linked In was ONLY FOR LinkedIn. In other words having that password wouldn’t allow access to any of my other accounts.
Let’s say that you need more convincing
Let’s say that you do use the same password for lots of things. Once the user starts trying your “favorite password” on multiple sites they are now into more areas of your life such as your email, banking, social media and other accounts. Here’s a recent story of a journalist who had his iCloud password hacked and the damage they were able to do with just that one password! Imagine if he used that same password in other places.
It’s not too late to fix this
I invested in an App called 1Password for iOS. It worked so well for me on my iPhone and iPad that I quickly saw the benefit in getting the Mac version too. From that point on any new account I created I started using 1Password to generate the more secure random longer passwords for each site. However, that wasn’t really good enough. Many of my existing site passwords were still using either the same password that I had been using for years or using the same password in multiple places. Earlier this year I sat down and using 1Password I did a search for that “familiar, easy to use password” that I liked to use so much to see which of my accounts were still using it. I made the effort to go to each site and change that password to a new random one right there on the spot. It’s a good thing I did because LinkedIn was originally one of those sites.
Yes it’s a little less convenient not being able to use a password that you can remember easily and use it for everything you do, but in today’s world of identity and cyber theft we just can’t afford to be that laxed when it comes to passwords. 1Password makes it as easy as it can be though. You can sync your encrypted 1Password password file between all your devices. It will generate secure passwords and keep track of them for you. When you need to use a password on a site that it stores, it can insert if for you or at a minimum you can copy and paste it where needed. Last month when I set up my New MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air from scratch I couldn’t imagine doing so without 1Password. It made it VERY EASY to get all my accounts set back up.
Here’s another tip
Having an easy to remember and use email address also makes it one step easier for hackers to associate passwords with YOU! I got a tip from Linda S. about setting up specific email addresses for specific purposes. For example, do you really need to use your regular email address for your banking? Probably not. So why not set up a specific email address AND password just for your financial institution? I have my own domain name. I can set up as many email addresses as I want. They also don’t have to include the word “terry” since I won’t be giving those addresses out to friends/family. It would be a lot harder for a hacker to figure out firstname.lastname@example.org than your real name. Since 1Password also stores the email address/user name with the password for each account, you can go nuts with user names too! Come to think of it, using the same email address everywhere is almost as bad as using the same password!
Last words of advice
- DON’T USE THE SAME PASSWORD IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE!
- Change your passwords on a regular basis. At work we’re required to change our passwords every 90 days. Don’t go longer than a year!
- Use longer more random passwords. 1Password has an excellent password generator built-in
- Don’t use an easily identifiable user name either. “Js89h2431″ is better than “JohnSmith”
- If you have the ability to have multiple email addresses, use new random email addresses as another layer of security. Many times you can setup the new email addresses to all auto forward to a main one anyway. If you don’t forward and use a single email address with a single vendor and you start getting Spam, you’ll know where it’s coming from!
- Don’t write your passwords down on or near your computer. <- yes people do this.
- As cleaver as you think you are, your dog’s name plus a number is not that hard to figure out.
Here are the 25 Worst Passwords Ever!
- password <-using a zero instead of an “o” doesn’t make you smart either.
Don’t get caught for using the same password for everything! You’re smarter than that right?
You can get 1Password for iOS here