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Passwords are a pain. Not only do they need to be sufficiently complex to thwart a potential attacker’s brute-force guessing, they must also be memorable enough that you don’t end up having to request a reset each time you forget your login.
The most common DIY solution to this problem is to simply recycle the same password across sites. Even with a relatively strong password, this isn’t a good idea. If someone were to steal such a one-size-fits-all password, they have what amounts to a master key that opens all your accounts.
As you think about ways to more safely manage your passwords, it’s important to consider additional measures that can shore up your defenses against cybercrime.
Another popular workaround is to use a very simple password for each site. In 2019, the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre found that the most prevalent passwords were incredibly simple strings like “123456” and “qwerty,” which while not hard to remember are the go-to first guesses of anyone trying to break into an account.
Fortunately, it’s possible to manage your passwords in a way that doesn’t leave you vulnerable to routine cyberattacks or drive you crazy trying to remember lengthy character sequences. Let’s look at some of your best options.
Option #1: Use the built-in password manager on your device
All modern consumer-facing operating systems (OSes) include some type of password manager, which can create, save, and auto-fill passwords:
- On Microsoft Windows, the default Edge web browser contains a password manager. Some versions of the OS also come with Keeper, a third-party utility with similar functionality.
- On Apple iOS and macOS, you can set up iCloud Keychain to manage all of your passwords across any devices running these OSes and signed into the same iCloud account.
- On Google Chrome OS and Android (as well as any instances of the Chrome browser on other OSes), the dedicated Google password manager can sync passwords across the same Google Account.
This route is the easiest of the three we will describe here, since it doesn’t require installing any additional software.
Option #2: Try a third-party password manager
There are many third-party password utilities out there, including 1Password, LastPass and Dashlane. These tools offer similar functionality as their built-in counterparts, but may also come with some other features such as a secure vault for sensitive documents, alerts related to data breaches, and safe sharing of credentials with trusted contacts.
Third-party password tools generally work across all major OSes. Like the built-in managers, they allow you to unlock a full list of your stored passwords by entering a master password or using a biometric credential like your fingerprint or a face scan.
Option #3: Create your own password management system
Even without using any of these software utilities, it’s possible to create safe, memorable, and unique passwords for multiple accounts. A good technique to use is to come up with an interesting phrase/sentence and then abbreviate.
For example, “John and Mary were cooking 3 Belgian waffles!” could become the quite strong password “JaMwc3Bw!” which would meet many sites’ requirements for upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.
You could store these passwords in a notebook or in a file on an encrypted hard drive. While storing them offline has some drawbacks in convenience, it’s highly secure since someone would need to physically access the source in order to break into your account.
How to further strengthen your data security
As you think about ways to more safely manage your passwords, it’s important to consider additional measures that can shore up your defenses against cybercrime. Total Defense offers multi-faceted security solutions that keep you safe online without compromising on performance. Learn more on our shop page.