How to Securely and Efficiently Manage Your Passwords

Technology has added many wonderful things to our lives. But the multitude of passwords we all need to know is not one of them.

Managing and remembering passwords, PIN numbers, user names and router logins has become challenging.  For your own security, your login passwords need to be different and strong. You should not be using the same passwords for multiple websites, particularly bank accounts, credit cards and your email login.

One of our goals as a firm is to make your life simpler and easier to manage, with less stress. We want to recommend a solution so you can securely manage all these passwords and data. Using a program to remember and easily retrieve this data should be part of your everyday life.

For many years I have used a program called 1Password. It is an integral part of my life and I cannot imagine managing all this data without 1Password or a similar program. 1Password can be added to almost any computer, phone or tablet that you own. I have added the app to my iPad and iPhone and the program to my Windows PC. They also have apps for Android devices.

We recommend that you obtain one of these programs, take the time to learn how to effectively use it and put all your data into the program you choose.  We are not specifically recommending 1Password, it is just the one that I’ve used for many years. Similar programs you may want to consider are LastPass and Dashlane.

What are the benefits of 1Password?  How do I use it?

  • When I sign into my bank account via the Internet using 1Password, it automatically puts in the user name and password for me. After I click on my bank in 1Password, I am logged into my account information. I don’t need to remember my user name or password.
  • It does the same thing when I sign into most credit card accounts. I don’t need to remember any of this information. If it doesn’t automatically pre-populate, then it is easy to cut and paste the username and password from 1Password to the website.  This saves you from re-typing your user name and password, making it easier to have more complicated passwords.
  • If someone is at my office or home and wants to use my secured wifi, I can easily provide them with the router password, as it is stored in 1Password. I don’t have to scramble and search for the router login information.
  • To use one of my ATM cards, I have stored the PIN number within 1Password. I just access the app and look up my PIN number.
  • 1Password can assist you in storing your passwords, it can evaluate the strength of your current passwords and it can generate new passwords for you (with a password recipe function that allows you to set the length and whether you want symbols, numbers or other items in your password).

Other features:

  • It remembers your prior passwords, if you are required to change certain passwords over time.
  • Auto fill function can populate data you have to repeatedly enter, such as your home address and credit card information when ordering items on the web.
  • You can write notes within each section of 1Password, so it is quite flexible.
  • Many categories of data can be stored and then easily retrieved. There are categories for website logins (of course), as well as credit cards, membership programs, bank accounts, email accounts, routers and identity items such as social security numbers and passports. These can also be helpful to securely store the data of close family members that you may need to know.
  • You can store secondary login information, such as security questions. This way, you will know the answers immediately.
  • And did you ever consider that you don’t need to provide the real answer for some of these questions? The answer to many of these questions are publicly known, so a hacker may know the real answer. Instead, if these questions are only being used for login purposes on a specific website, create a different high school, first home or car, your mother’s maiden name and store your answer in 1Password. Now you have improved your personal security.

You access the program by creating and then remembering one master password. This is common among all these types of programs. There are special tips for developing and then remembering this master password, as this becomes the “key” to your life. This password should be very strong and you should give this password to a family member and someone else you trust, in case you forget the one password which opens these types of programs.  (See blog post “Toward Better Master Passwords”).  To optimize 1Password, you can use Dropbox or iCloud to sync your data across all your devices. I use Dropbox for this.

1Password also has “Security Audit” features. It identifies weak passwords, duplicates and other information to help you decide which Logins to revise. They have also added a feature called “Watchtower,” which lists all vulnerable websites that you have entered into the program. These are identified due to security breaches or viruses, such as the recent Heartbleed security bug. The Watchtower feature must be enabled.

You should use strong passwords and not use the same passwords or login information multiple times.  By using a program like 1Password, it is easier to manage all of your login information. You will be able to create much stronger passwords. You will have the confidence to change your passwords more frequently. And you will save time by not having to type in user names, passwords and other information.

Sound valuable, right? Will you take the next step and start using a password management program?

Note:

For more information on 1Password, see AgileBits.com.  For additional assistance learning about 1Password, see “Take Control of 1Password” at takecontrolbooks.com.   The program is available for purchase at their website or sites such as iTunes. To purchase 1Password, there are various options, depending on what type of computer and devices you use. You may want to consider their various package bundles. The programs are not free and we would not want them to be. Agilebits, the developer of 1Password, has created an important security service and have continually updated and improved their products.  We have not been compensated in any way by 1Password or AgileBits.

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