FREE Password Management Tips and Software

When it comes to making up and maintaining passwords, it is astonishing how complacent we can be… Everything that we access on the internet, that is on a personal and private level, requires an account username and password, (i.e. our internet service provider account, email, banking, purchasing, instant messaging, community sites, places of employment, etc.). The majority of us will use the same username and password for every account we access and will usually use one word (for the password) that is something that we hold close to ourselves (i.e. pet’s name, child’s name, nicknames, birthday, etc.) . Instead of using good password management practices, we end up using the same password for every account we setup or maintain and often never change that password. Another fact is that we will write the password(s) down on a scrap piece of paper; then we’ll stick it on the computer monitor, under a desk pad, in a desk drawer, etc… We innocently do these things, as a matter of convenience, so that we do not forget the password. I also know for fact that we, as humans, do not like change; even something as simple as changing a password.

What are the risks of weak password(s) falling into the wrong hands?

A person can access our accounts to impersonate us; steal our identity; monitor our activities; acquire personal information; sign our name to online service agreements and contracts; change our account information or profile, acquire credit card information, etc.  To put this into perspective, it is not uncommon for online web mail accounts (passwords) to be hijacked and you the victim become locked out the account.  You probably thinking, so what, my email account carries no value. Well it will when everyone in your address book starts receiving scam emails indicating that you are stranded in a foreign country and you need money; plus, you put each of those addresses, in your address book, at risk.

What to do (some basic password management tips):

  • When possible, use a “Passphrase” instead of a “Password”. “Passphrases” are nonsensical sentences that are easily remembered. For example; by typing “My wife calls me donkey! Wonder why?” is harder to crack than using the password “donkey”; however, the problem we run into is that many services do not allot enough character space to type a full sentence or phrase. If you have to use a “Password”, use at least 7 characters, make it easy to remember, avoid dictionary words, avoid number sequences, and throw in an upper/lower case mix with some symbols (for example: Eye812!).  The longer the password, the better.

You can test the strength of your passwords at Test Your Pas$word.

test-your-password

  • Use good password management practices when protecting accounts that are very important.
  • Do not share your passwords with anyone. Treat passwords as if they are the keys to your house.
  • Do not use passwords that would be common to your profile as a person (i.e. birth date, dog’s or cat’s name, nickname)
  • Do not use passwords such as Admin, Administrator, 12345, password, etc…
  • Change the Password or PassPhrase on a regular basis. We have the tendency to not change our passwords for years.
  • Use Password Management software such as KeePass or S10 Password Vault to manage, store and automate username and password form entries.

If you have any other password management tips you would like to share with the readers here, please comment below.

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9 Responses to FREE Password Management Tips and Software

  1. techpaul says:

    Rick,
    A very well-written, very right on, article.. on a very (as in “extremely”) important topic.

    As a tech, I am often faced with a login (user name+password) and before I ask the client what it is, I take a stab – or three – at it. Some guesses.
    I have come to be unsurprised at how often I succeed. (And, no, I haven’t yet looked under the keyboard.)

    One password tool I like to recommend is RoboForm, which IMHO is a good enough tool to even reco springing for the “Pro version”.

    … I also keep a (penciled) handwritten list of my logins (I must have over 50..) which has saved my bacon a few times(my memory being only fair to middlin’) but, repeat, but, I keep it well away from my computer areas.

    Again, a great article. I will be pointing it out to my readers.

    • Ramblinrick says:

      TechPaul,

      Thanks for these added tips and the mention of RoboForm. I too have had luck in guessing out passwords. Once you learn the profile it is the matter of the process of elimination. As always, I thank you!

      Rick

  2. steve says:

    Excellent article. We find so many people with the same simplex passwords across all of their accounts. Another article for the class.

    Steve

    • Ramblinrick says:

      Steve,

      Thanks for the compliment! Password management, when managing a network, is critical to the health of the network. I have been in places where the system admins do not push password changes and the end result can be disaster. Again, Thank you (and Happy Thanksgiving).

      Rick

  3. Bill Mullins says:

    Rick,

    Well done – a critical step in overall security awareness.

    Since we are all interconnected, your statement “you put each of those addresses, in your address book, at risk”, should be enough to drive users in the right direction regarding passwords.

    Unfortunately, even this consideration for others doesn’t seem to be enough motivation to convince users to practice proper password management.

    Bill

    • Ramblinrick says:

      Bill,

      You know you hit on something very strong there and is not realized amongst users abroad. “We are all interconnected”… I know so many people that have had accounts hijacked, information stolen and they still don’t get it.

      As always, I take to heart your expertise and advice.

      Rick

  4. IzaakMak says:

    Great post! I’ve been using KeePass for quite some time and I think it’s wonderful. I use it’s built-in generator to create mu passwords and it’s Auto-Type feature to avoid having to remember them. I also keep a copy of my KeePass database and a copy of the portable executable on a flash drive, just in case. I’m thinking about just operating it entirely from the flash drive, but I like how I can call up the resident version with a Windows hot key combo.

    I’m curious as to what you think about allowing your browser to store your passwords, and on-line password synchronizing with add-ons like Firefox Sync?

  5. Ramblinrick says:

    Mak,

    In reference to your questioning about storing passwords online… Just my 2 cents. As I mentioned, passwords are like the keys to your house. I don’t know if I would like the keys to my house being somewhere else; especially when I truly do not know that much about the somewhere else. Maybe for unimportant accounts; but for banking and critical personal info, I wouldn’t do it. Call me parenoid…

    Rick

  6. […] Folks, for now, a quick reading reco: FREE Password Management Tips and Software […]

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