the Problem with Passwords

Remembering passwords is a big problem today. It seems the single password system is increasingly under attack by “hackers”. The fact that many users use a single, easy to remember but insecure password for all their log-ins makes their personal information very insecure. Many places are now trying a different system, called “two factor” authentication, which is a lot more secure, but still not fool proof. Soon, still another system will be used, biometrics. We humans have unique fingerprints, and unique “eye” prints. These can be used to identify you and only you.  The sooner this technology can be used, the better. Until then, having secure unique passwords, at least for sensitive personal information, it vital if you want your private information to be safe. And the increase in technological capacity has changed the definition of what a secure unique password is. it used to be if you had a password of 12 characters, you were reasonably safe, because it would take years to “break” the password. It now takes days to “break” a 12 character password. The bad guys are winning :( so you now need a password of at least 18 characters (and they should be random letters of both lower and upper case, with numbers and punctuation marks mixed in). The problem is, a password like this is impossible to remember. Writing it down and taping it to the monitor or bottom of the keyboard is as secure as not having a password. What is the solution? If the security of your personal information is important to you, buy one of the many good password managers (I like 1Password) available. With a password manager, you only have to know one unique password to unlock and access your log-in information. One other, very important data point. You should give this unique password to a relative or someone you trust, or put it in a secure place where it can be retrieved in case of a personal emergency. But, please don’t use an easy to guess password, and don’t use the same password for all your logins. Its just not safe.