Considering how much private and precious information we store digitally, many of us are unknowingly reckless with our online security. According to the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of internet users have had their email or social media accounts compromised, and 11 percent have had important personal information like their Social Security number, bank accounts or credit cards stolen online.
It’s not hard to see why. A 2017 follow-up survey determined that most Americans use either their memory or a handwritten list to keep track of their many passwords. Of all survey respondents, 39 percent admitted to losing track of their passwords, 30 percent were concerned about the security of the passwords they chose, and 41 percent chose simple passwords for at least some of their accounts because they were easier to remember. This is a recipe for digital disaster, and the consequences are felt with each new security breach.
Whether you use them or not, you’re likely already familiar with techniques for creating effective passwords. You can stay safe by using unique, ideally long and seemingly randomized, combinations of numbers and letters that steer away from any personal information you’ve made public or searchable. But if you create a new and complex password for each individual login, odds are you’ll find it difficult to remember them on your own. The next challenge is finding a way to safely store them without creating a master list that can, itself, become compromised.
Though no system is perfect, the single best option available today is to use a password management app with two factor authentication capabilities (otherwise known as 2FA). There are several available, but among the most popular and effective are 1Password, LastPass and DashLane Premium. Each of these allows you to create and store unique passwords in a safely encrypted digital vault that you can access with a hyper-secure master password.
In most side-by-side brand comparisons these are recognized as the industry champions, with a strong core of features shared across all three systems. Though they each have their particular strengths‒for example, LastPass can do bulk password changes, while 1Password works across more platforms‒they all include randomized password generation, form filling, cross platform syncing, security alerts and automatic password changes if a hack should occur. Subsequently, determining which of these brands is right for you may come down to the practicality of cost, or less tangible qualities like user friendliness and interface.
“There are some differences,” says Ryan Biracree, the Digital Services Coordinator of an innovative tech center at the Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison, NY. “But I would say in terms of safety, it doesn’t really matter which you choose. It matters that you have good habits in having different passwords for everything. And that’s the best thing about password managers—they let you do just that without making it a hassle for you at all.”
Though the future is sure to usher in more biometric safety measures like fingerprint and facial recognition, for now, those old fashioned and flawed passwords are the most common online security measure we have. Make sure they’re ready to put up a fight for the next major breach, which is eternally around the corner. And when you want to keep your digital devices safer, This Is the Best Way to Keep Your Smartphone Clean!
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