To avoid getting hacked, use a different strong password for every website. A password manager makes this easy.
In theory, it’s easy to avoid getting hacked. Just use strong passwords.
The person in the picture got it right:
- Ridiculously long
- Randomly generated
- No birthday, dog’s name, or “password”
Make your password the best cartoon expletive you’ve ever seen!
In practice, it’s much harder. You face two key challenges with a strong password:
- How do you create it?
- How do you remember it?
Wait, make that three:
- How do you create and remember a different strong password for every website???
- How do you do all that when you’re forced to change most of your passwords every 90 days???
Don’t Do This
We’re all human. We want to log in quickly, finish our task ASAP, and move on.
This leads many of us to take shortcuts with our passwords:
- Too simple. Too short, too obvious, too lame.
- Too few. Remembering more than a couple of decent passwords is tough!
The problem of using too few passwords doesn’t get enough attention. If someone hacks your Netflix account, they try the same username and password at 500 different financial institutions to see if they can clean you out. Next, they try the major email providers and see if they can invite all your friends and work contacts to buy Nigerian lottery tickets.
Use a different strong password for every website.
This is MUCH easier said than done. As of this writing, I have logins for 568 different websites (!).
OK, some of those I only used once, but I have 115 websites that I actively do not want compromised.
Even if that’s over the top, you probably have at least 10 critical websites. One hack would be too many here:
- Bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards
- Email accounts, work-related accounts, cloud storage providers
- Medical records, social media accounts, the list goes on!
OK, I Get It, But How?
Nobody’s brain can hold all these crazy passwords, so you need to write them down somehow. But how?
Old-school paper isn’t the worst idea, actually. A list in a secure place at home can’t be hacked. But you can’t access or update it when you’re not home.
You can also keep a list on your phone or laptop, or in the cloud. But you’re vulnerable if your device is lost or stolen, or your cloud account is hacked.
Plus, a paper or electronic list won’t randomly generate a new strong password every time you need one.
The Solution: A Password Manager
A password manager is a piece of software that does the following:
- Stores a different strong password for every website
- Randomly generates new strong passwords
- Gives you access across all your devices
- Lets you share individual passwords with others (e.g., within your household)
- Takes minimal effort once you’re up and running
My password manager makes it easy to protect the 115 websites I care about, and the 453 I don’t. Bottom line: Nobody’s gonna hack my Netflix, and even if they did, I wouldn’t care!
As of this writing, the New York Times product review website recommends 1Password or Bitwarden. LastPass is also reputable. ER Doc Finance has no financial relationship with any of these entities.
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