How many passwords do you have? Wait, let me rephrase that: how many websites or applications do you have to enter a #password into? “What’s the difference” you might ask. The difference is huge.
If you have one password (or maybe a couple) that you use for everything, you make a hacker’s job that much easier. Once they get a password for one login, it’s just a matter of trying the same credentials on other popular websites. And if all your passwords are the same, it won’t take them long.
Here’s another question: How strong is your password? How long will it take a hacker to crack it? If you really want to find out, head over to Intel’s Password Game. It will tell you how many days (or years) it would take for a hacker to crack your password, and has tips on how to create a strong password. Here are some examples:
- password = 8 characters = 0 seconds to crack
- [email protected]$$w0rd = 8 characters w/ upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters = 4 hours to crack
- sWemybMhuNS3vDrA9t9 = 19 characters w/ upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters = 144,883,728,284 years to crack
Now, you’re probably thinking “How am I supposed to remember multiple complex 19 character passwords? There’s no way!” Unless you’re Rain Man, you’re right. I personally have over 80 sites that require a username and password to log into. I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m no slouch either. I know for a fact I can’t remember that many passwords, let alone think up a unique password for each site. There was a time when my “little black book” was the one I used to store usernames and passwords in. Until my dog ate it.
I use a password manager from Marvasol, Inc called LastPass. It remembers my passwords so I can get on with more important things in life. I use one complex password that I can remember to secure my vault, and have multifactor authentication enabled by using Google’s Authenticator on my smart phone. Data is stored in the cloud, protected by 256-bit encryption. Passwords and sites sync between all my devices (iPhone, iPad, computers, etc) so I never have to worry about forgetting. The best part? LastPass comes with it’s own password generator, which lets you define the length of the password, and which characters should be included. That’s how I came up with “sWemybMhuNS3vDrA9t9”.
This isn’t a sales pitch. You won’t find LastPass in our Affiliates section. There are other password managers out there that perform the same basic function. Cnet.com did a review on 6 popular apps, which you can read about here.
Take the time to evaluate your password situation. If your dog eats your little black book, how much of your life are you going to lose? Worse yet, if you’re using easy to crack passwords, or the same password on multiple sites, how much are you going to lose to hackers?