For many of us, password management falls into that murky category of nagging things we know we should do but that seem too overwhelming to conquer. So we don't even start. This weekend, we're going to come up with a plan and start implementing it. We'll gain not only the satisfaction of a put-off but necessary task crossed off our list, but also the peace of mind of knowing that our information is finally secure.
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If you didn't already know, the"rules" for creating secure passwords have now been called into question — by the creator of those rules himself. Apparently, mathematically, passphrases composed of randomly generated words ("correct horse battery staple") are far more secure than passwords created according to the "one uppercase letter and one special symbol"-type standards that have driven many of us insane.
However, keep in mind that a passphrase generated in this way is not ideal for each and every website you log on to. You shouldn't use the same passphrase for multiple sites and nobody has the time or energy to create and manage secure passphrases for hundreds of sites.
Instead, use a passphrase for "master" logins, such as for logging on to your computer or for logging in to your password manager.
This Weekend's Assignment:
Organize your passwords with a password manager.
Password managers, experts agree, are the best — and easiest — way to create and store secure passwords for the multitude of sites we sign in to on a daily basis. In essence, a password manager can generate, "remember," and fill in your passwords for you. You log in to your password manager with a master password.
Password managers are available for free, but paid versions offer additional benefits, such as use across multiple devices and auto fill-in for credit card information. PC Mag and Kiplinger each have great reviews and comparisons of password managers.
So this weekend's project is simple: Pick a password manager and install it. Depending on the password manager you use, you can import a set of logins and passwords already saved to your browser. Alternately, you can store your passwords one by one in your password manager as you log in to different sites throughout the course of your week. Advanced password managers will help flag weak passwords and help you update them to more secure ones.
Once you get started with a password management system, if you haven't already, you'll wonder why you waited so long to do it.
Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we've sent you, or tackle another project you've been meaning to get to. It's also completely okay to skip a weekend if you're busy or not feeling the assignment.