Let’s be honest, nobody likes having to remember a bunch of different passwords. Between social media, email, computer logins, and the seemingly ever-expanding list of work passwords, it’s exhausting and stressful trying to keep them all straight.
An obvious (and wrong) solution is to use one single password across all your accounts. All of us are guilty of it on some level. While this method is simple and efficient, it’s terribly dangerous – if you are setting any goals for 2020 you should consider prioritizing your internet and security identity.
Brains Aren’t Meant to Remember
How do solve our brain’s inability to remember these obnoxious jumbles of letters and characters? Simply put, WE DON’T. In the early days of internet security, security engineers and web developers encouraged everyone to use super complex passwords to prevent your identity and accounts from being hacked. It created a culture of thought that put all the blame on the users (us) and very little on the engineers.
The reality is, unless you’re one of the blessed few who has picture-perfect memory, you will not be able to remember all your passwords. So… easiest move is to write them down on a sticky note, right? WRONG. As convenient as it is to have your password broadcast all over your office, it’s what we in the security industry refer to as “a bad idea”.
However, there are some tools available to make your passwords incredibly easy to remember:
Easy Ways to Remember & Manage Your Passwords
- Use a password manager
- Make the master password very complex as it will give access to all your other passwords
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication (SMS text or email confirmation)
- Allow the Password manager to create passwords for you
- Have your browser remember your password
- Make your computer and email passwords very complex
- Turn off Synchronization (moving passwords across devices)
- Write down your passwords but turn it into a puzzle
- Reverse the password
- Split your passwords in half across multiple locations
- Keep this written password somewhere safe and hidden
Using a password manager.
This is by far your best option to keep your passwords safe without having to write them down on paper. Password managers are more secure and better able to remember your password and act as a “go-between” for you and the website you’re accessing. LastPass is a wonderful option – it’s free (unless you want some of their premium features), and very user friendly!
Almost all password managers are compatible on mobiles as well. If you want to be double secure, you can use a randomly generated password that LastPass will create for you and use to automatically sign into your accounts, without you even having to know what the password is! If you don’t know your password, there’s no way a hacker can know it either!
Have your browser “remember my password”, but use a secure email and computer password.
Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and just about every other browser out there gives users the option to remember passwords for them. While this is quite convenient, it isn’t the preferred method of password management. These browsers use your email address to store your other passwords. So, if your computer and/or email address password is weak, any attacker who hacked your email or accessed your computer will also gain access to all your other passwords that have been associated with your email.
As a rule, your email password should be the most secure password of all your passwords. Read more about how turning sync off can further improve your security.
If you write down your passwords, turn it into a puzzle.
There is nothing wrong with writing down your passwords and keeping them someplace safe (NOT taped to your monitor), as long as the passwords are readable only by you. For example, let’s say our password is “Th!s!sN0tSecure”. Instead of writing the exact password, jumble it up! You can reverse the password from “Th!s!sN0tS3cure” to “eruc3St0Ns!s!hT”. You could write half of the password on one page, and the other half on the reverse, and only when the paper is folded properly will it reveal your full password. The bottom line is, if you write down your physical passwords, document them in a way that only you will understand.
Again, you shouldn’t feel bad for using unsecure passwords or storing them in easily accessible places. We were all trained improperly by an outdated security culture and it’s time that we switched over to a different method – one that is easier and more secure! As humans, our brains weren’t meant to remember abstract letters and numbers, so stop stressing yourself out and let the computers do what they should have been doing from the very beginning.