Quick: Can you recall your username and password for every website, mobile app, or bank you use? If your answer is “Yes”, you are a) a Mensa member or b) likely using the same password over and over, which can be very dangerous. With so much of our personal and business activity taking place online these days, managing a dizzying array of username/password combinations has become virtually impossible. No two sites seem to have the same rules and this can result in literally dozens of combinations that we all have to remember. To add to this problem, the same technology that is supposed to make this easier can actually make it harder.
- Using the same password over and over—no matter how clever—can be very dangerous.
- Most people aren’t aware that all their passwords saved within the Google browser are very easy to access.
- Fortunately, there are numerous websites and mobile applications that can help you keep track of all your passwords and related information.
For instance, having your browser “remember me” is great, as you don’t have to keep entering your password every time you go to a website you use regularly. However, go to a new computer, or have your cookies cleared out of your browser (intentionally or accidentally), and then try to recall that password that you only entered once, six months ago, the day you first created it for that site. It is very difficult, unless of course you use the same one over and over, which has its own pitfalls.
Here’s another scary thought: If you use Google Chrome as your Web browser, which you likely do, as it’s the most popular Web browser in the U.S., there’s something you should know that Google’s not telling you: all your passwords saved within the browser are actually very easy to access. Anyone with physical access to your computer can view passwords stored in Chrome by simply typing in “chrome://settings/passwords” into the Chrome search bar. A list of websites and their saved passwords instantly appear, and the simple click of the “show” button next to each blanked-out password reveals the full password. Try it and see what is stored in your browser. Although we all know it is storing this info, I don’t think most people realize how readily accessible it is.
Of course any problem created by technology will likely have a technological solution. There are now numerous websites and mobile applications that can help you keep track of all this information. Some are free, but most have small annual or monthly fees. I am a big proponent of using the free versions of most software, since most people will only ever use the most basic features. That’s a personal choice, and others may argue that even the free options shown below are fully protected (and they are correct). However, when it comes to protecting my personal information, I think this might warrant a small financial investment to ensure that the company providing the application has a deeper financial stake in protecting my data.
Although there are an ever-growing number of solutions on the market, below, in no particular order, is a listing of some of the most widely used.
DISCLAIMER: Neither Naylor, LLC nor Association Adviser has a commercial interest in the products and solutions listed below.
Dashlane is a web and mobile app available in two versions. Both versions include alerts about security breaches, a built-in digital wallet for online purchases and automatic saves and screenshots of your purchases. There are no clunky toolbars, as Dashlane uses auto-logins. You can also easily import your Chrome passwords.
The premium version ($19.99 per year) includes additional secure cloud backup and web access to passwords. Dashlane is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
Despite the sheer number of different apps available for managing passwords, a few of the same names tend to crop up, and 1Password is usually near the top of that list.
Available on Mac, Windows, iOS and Android (sort of), 1Password spans most of the major platforms and does a fine job of presenting you with options to keep your passwords tucked away safely and securely.
The iOS app is currently priced at $17.99.
LastPass is a web app compatible with Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari browsers. The app features one-click login for all of your accounts, and can also store other data securely. LastPass encrypts your information locally, so your information is always safe.
You can also safely share login info without exposing the information, import and export your personal data and back up your information. There is a screen keyboard option for logins to deter hackers.
Free web version. You can upgrade to the premium version for $1 per month in order to use LastPass on your mobile devices, including iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone.
OneSafe, available for Mac and iOS, is a strong security management app. The app ($5.99 for iPhone and iPad, and $12.99 for Mac) syncs your login information across various devices via iCloud, and includes secure backup. Also, you can easily import and export your info, and take advantage of oneSafe’s password generator. OneSafe has a clean user interface with user-friendly layouts for easy organization.
You have the option to use onePhoto ($1.99 for iOS) to keep all of your photos and videos secure and in one place. The tight security includes the option to let your media self-destruct after three unsuccessful logins.
Norton Identity Safe (free)
Identity Safe is a free app from antivirus company Norton, and it’s available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android. The app saves your passwords and will recognize your used sites to autofill fields. You can also securely store notes. Identity Safe gauges a site’s safety before you visit it, and it also has a password generation feature.
Password Genie (free)
Password Genie, available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android, is another password manager available in free and premium versions. The app will save your login info and password, and auto-fill a login form the next time you visit the same site. You can also create customized folders for different categories of sites, and you can sync the account with multiple users, desktops and devices. In addition, Password Genie has automated backups and will encrypt your personal info for extra protection.
Most of the options above have free trial versions, so you can try them out before committing any money. If you haven’t already found a password management tool like those above, I would encourage you to start investigating these options. Of course, the most important thing of all is to make certain the passwords you use are as strong as possible. There are many ways to accomplish this, but this should be your first step when tackling this issue. (here is an article with some tips) With more and more of our information being available online, the security of your information must become a priority. These tools can help you stay on top of the new demands of the information age.
Marcus Underwood is vice president and general manager of NaylorNet, the online media solutions division of Naylor, LLC.