As our online lives have expanded, so have the number of passwords we have to remember. Passwords for email accounts, bank accounts, social networking sites, shopping sites, the list goes on. A survey last year found that the average person has 27 different logins. But does that mean they have 27 different passwords? Not usually. Most people struggle to remember so many passwords, and so resort to reusing the same password across multiple sites, or with only small changes. Research shows that year after year, the most popular passwords in lists of breached accounts are the easiest to guess: 123456, password, iloveyou, qwerty, and more. But if one of these passwords is compromised, the cascade of breaches can be devastating.
Despite efforts to replace passwords with other forms of authentication, it’s clear that they are not going away any time soon. What’s a security conscious person to do? The first thing is to enable two-factor authentication on all accounts that have that option. The next thing to do is to install a password manager, and use it to store and generate strong passwords. Two of the most popular password managers available are Dashlane and LastPass. Both offer browser extensions to simplify logging in to websites, and the option to sync passwords across devices. Both also offer mobile apps, for password management on the go.
But how secure are password managers? Commercially available programs like Dashlane and LastPass encrypt the passwords stored in the password vault, so even if the master password is compromised, the other passwords will remain secure. However strong you think your passwords are, compared to the computing power of today’s machines, they are likely no match. Using a password manager to generate and store passwords is one of the best bets for securing your digital life.