In this day and age we are all storing more and more important information online, everything from banking to social media, it all has a value. For that reason it is imperative that you secure access to this information as well as you can. There are many different ways to do this such as two factor authentication but one good practise that everyone should adopt is using ‘strong’ passwords.
A strong password is created by increasing the length of a password, not using a dictionary word and ensuring that many different letters, numbers and symbols are used.
Or to use the Wikipedia definition of Password Strength
“Password strength is a measure of the effectiveness of a password in resisting guessing and brute-force attacks. In its usual form, it estimates how many trials an attacker who does not have direct access to the password would need, on average, to guess it correctly. The strength of a password is a function of length, complexity, and unpredictability.”
Obviously creating a password that is 30+ characters long and contains various symbols and signs is very difficult to remember, especially when you consider that the best practise is to use a 50 character or the maximum permitted length password and also to use a new strong password for each site that you have an account with.
However, there is solution, a ‘Password Manager’ that will securely store your passwords and details, I will talk about my ‘Password Manager’ of choice, 1Password but there are a number of others available.
1Password allows you to generate a super secure password and store it for future use, you do not need to manually copy and paste the password each time you want to access a new page, you can simply use the 1Password browser plugin
1Password consists of a desktop application (Mac + PC) and a browser plugin, as you can see from the screenshot above, we have generated a super strong password. If we run the password through a website that checks for password strength you will see the results (n.b never put your real generate password into anything other that the site’s login page). In this example we will use the generated strong password Zh#h;(Lf@&yZ^#%;L9u>w$MfJ[z[,A3XV}=8,#X%ZwEF?XUQcH . As you can see, this is not something that people will be able to remember from looking over your shoulder and the complexity of the password makes it very difficult for people to crack it with standard hardware.
1Password also allows you to store ‘Secure Notes’ such as answers to security questions, top tip here is to make a note of what the security question is and then use another randomly generated string as the answer so that if someone has researched you, they will still not be able to access your account to reset the password etc. I find the ‘Secure Notes’ feature which is essentially a secure text editor very useful for storing the Bank Details that ask what is the 3rd letter of the second word.
You will probably be saying right so I have all of these long passwords, I can get 1Password web browser plugin to autocomplete the login details for me on my PC, but I also have mobile devices that I need to login with. Well the solution is the 1Password App for iOS and Android. The app when combined with the powerful syncing features (I recommend Dropbox sync) will ensure that your password data is always available to you on whatever device you have with you.
1Password is available here , it is £32 / $49.99 but it does come with a 30 day free trial. It is an investment but it is well worth the additional peace of mind knowing that your passwords are strong and stored securely. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy.