How to Remember All the Passwords You Need in Your Life

Passwords need to be complicated to be secure. A password manager can create strong passwords and help you remember them.

It seems like everything you do on any of your digital devices requires a password and the requirements for these security codes are getting more and more extensive. Some sites don’t allow words that can be found in dictionaries, while others don’t want any logical sequences or personal elements like a house number, street name, zip code, birth date, birth year, child’s name or pet’s name. Many accounts require your password to have both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers, special characters and a specific minimum and maximum length. The list goes on and on.

So while you might still use poodle1234 to log into your old email account, that password may not get approved for more current accounts. (You probably don’t want to be using the same password across multiple accounts, anyway.)

The strongest passwords are typically long and random, as this makes them harder for hackers to guess. Because of this, passwords often end up looking like gibberish, like: (&cR=x?fae~c[R5GAs3AN4?.

Remembering Complex Passwords

It isn’t easy to remember all of these long, random, complex passwords and some websites disable password saving on their login screens, but there are password managers that can help. They’re available from a variety of sources, including anti-virus software providers and standalone password services. If you’re looking to try out a password manager tool, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve highlighted four common ones below to help you get started researching your options.

It’s important to make sure you feel safe with any of these options, as you don’t want your passwords to fall into the wrong hands. A weak password could help make you a victim of identity theft, which can wreak havoc on your finances. While you’re beefing up your passwords, another good practice is to regularly monitor your credit for signs of identity theft, like a sudden drop in your scores. You can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com. (Note: The password managers below all use encryption to protect your data.)

LastPass

LastPass, a free password manager, generates random passwords using a browser toolbar extension. You can access the passwords using your LastPass account menu, stored right in your browser bar. However, once you’ve saved credentials for a particular site, it will show up automatically in a popup when you click the icon. Do you have three different Gmail accounts? No problem. You can save multiple login credentials for any site. You can also edit the credentials and you can share passwords with others if you want someone else to have access to one of your accounts, even if the password changes. (Just make sure you’re selective about who you share personal information with.) You can use LastPass across multiple devices, and your password vault is available even if you’re offline.

Google Smart Lock

Google Smart Lock runs in the Chrome web browser and will automatically log you into the sites you visit if you turn on this feature. Once active, Google will ask you if you want to save the account info when you log into sites.

To get an overview of your saved information, visit myaccount.google.com. Start at “Sign-in & security,” click on “Connected apps & sites” and scroll down to “Saved passwords.” Click on “Manage passwords” to see options. If you turn on Smart Lock, Google will log you into saved websites and bypass the login screen. You don’t want to turn this feature on if you’re uncomfortable being removed from the login process.

Your Google account is the master login for the Smart Lock feature. That makes password management extremely convenient, but it also means that if someone gains access to your Google account, they can also access and control your passwords. Google Smart Lock does not include a password generator and it doesn’t work on iPhones or browsers other than Chrome.

Norton Identity Safe

Norton Identify Safe is a free password manager made by Symantec, the company behind the well-known Norton AntiVirus products. It is installed on your computer and any other device you choose, as well as your browser. You’ll find a link to a random password generator right at the top of the Norton Identity Safe website.

When you set it up, you’ll need two passwords: one for your account and one for your password vault. Both passwords should be complex but memorable because your stored passwords will be inaccessible until you open the vault.

Once you enter your various login credentials in the app, the sites appear in an alphabetical list in your password vault. A colored bar tells you whether your password is weak (red), moderate (yellow) or strong (green).

Norton Identity Safe can also securely store your credit card numbers for easy online payments. (It’s important to be careful when you’re sharing personal information like credit card numbers online, as this can open you up to credit card fraud.)

SecureSafe

SecureSafe is a cloud storage service for sensitive files and passwords. File storage is its standout feature. If you need to store a digital copy of a sensitive file (like one of these seven documents you need to fill out before you die), a SecureSafe free account includes 100 MB of file storage space and can save up to 50 passwords. Paid accounts (starting at $18/year) get unlimited passwords and more file storage space. The app includes a variety of security features for file storage, including a free, secure PDF viewer for smartphones.

When you open the app on desktop or mobile, passwords are listed alphabetically. If you’ve entered the URL, you can click the arrow icon to go straight to the site. The password is copied to your clipboard automatically so you can paste it into the field on the login screen. The clipboard is erased after a short period of time; the time period is customizable.

SecureSafe doesn’t run as a browser extension, so you need to log into your account to access your passwords. This is an advantage for people who don’t want extension clutter or popups, or for people who use shared devices. The extra steps are cumbersome, though, for anyone who wants passwords to automatically populate.

Want to learn more about how to keep your information safe? Here are eight ways to protect your privacy online.

Image: pixelfit

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How Staying Off Social Media Can Keep You Safer & Happier This Summer

sharing-on-social-media

Let’s face it, there’s no bigger downer than working all day and coming home to images of other people’s awesome vacations — that is, nothing except maybe coming home to find out you’ve been robbed or had your identity stolen.

According the Pew Research Center, 65% of adults use social media, and among people aged 18 to 29, the percentage skyrockets to more than 90% of the population. For a family with kids, a staggering amount of information finds its way onto potentially public forums. As usage increases, so too does the risk of identity-related crimes.

FOMO Gets Real

The good folks at Merriam-Webster added about 2,000 new words to the company’s unabridged dictionary this year, among them, “FOMO,” an acronym that stands for “fear of missing out.” This fear has created an environment where hundreds of millions of social media users overshare every morsel of their lives as a quid for connecting in a virtual setting with others who have a similar unquenchable thirst.

Unfortunately, this type of over-sharing — and, even, FOMO, itself — could be leading to bigger issues.

Feeling Depressed?

It really could be FOMO. Studies have shown that the fear of missing out causes anxiety and depression, and that it can resemble addiction. And here’s the problem with that: The attendant distraction level produced can open the door to mistakes. Distraction is all a thief needs to scam you. FOMO exposes you and your family to crime.

A good fraudster or scam artist can use all kinds of information — things that seem completely un-useable to the non-criminal mind — to profit at your expense.

And, if you don’t think getting robbed should count as an identity-related crime, consider the fact that burglars and identity thieves routinely scour social media to find targets — including people who are on vacation. The home address and current location of a social media user can be relatively easy to figure for a savvy surfer.

While a lot of FOMO happens on social sites like Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, there’s plenty happening by way of text, too, especially among young people who can easily generate hundreds, even thousands, of messages in no time.

On the texting front, with so many texts whizzing around you and your kids, it is way too easy to click on a phishing link that downloads malware, and from there it’s just a matter of time before you are scammed.

FOGRO (Fear of Getting Ripped Off)

The antidote for all this fevered activity? FOGRO, or fear of getting ripped off. And while, admittedly, it isn’t as much fun to say, it might be a step in the right direction.

The key to rightsizing FOMO might be admitting it could be a problem. That may be all it takes to instill a little fear of getting ripped off, and with that, a slightly less reactive connection to the media we use, whether social or person-to-person communication.

Even a momentary pause before posting or clicking can mean the difference between a normal day and a nightmare.

Talk about the pause button with your family, and why it matters.

Since it seems unlikely that current trends in social media use are going to take a turn for the safer, I thought it might be helpful to review how to best navigate social media so it’s use is more secure.

Rules for Safer Social

  1. Set privacy settings as tightly as possible. Don’t let strangers see anything that can be used to verify your identity or that of your children (date of birth, email address, place of work, home address, schools attended, places where you’ve lived, maiden names, etc).
  2. Don’t interact with strangers, and talk to your kids about what it means to accept followers on the various accounts they use.
  3. Since there are bragging rights attached to likes and followers, make sure your family understands what kinds of information can be used to scam you.
  4. Nothing personal: I know people who refer to their children by number on social media, and others who wish happy birthday to their own kids online with everything but his or her Social Security number. Less is more (security) when online.
  5. Never click a link that’s texted to you, and make sure your kids don’t either.
  6. Turn off location services. This feature isn’t necessary on social. Location services tell people — including crooks — where you are and where you aren’t. Don’t use this feature.

Remember, you’re always one click away from trouble. (If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you may want to monitor your credit. You can view two of your scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com and view your annual credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.)

More on Identity Theft:

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