Are you drowning in passwords? Making an account or signing up for something every second day? It is an unavoidable part of running a business and when it comes time to set the password you find it needs to be 10 characters including (of course) one capital and one symbol. And you’re thinking how will I ever remember this? And even more scary – if I can’t remember it then I have to store them – and if I have to store them, then will they be safe?
Well here are our 7 tips for password management:
1) When you are signing up to something consider the importance of that account and the information that it will hold. Also how often you will need to access it in the future. This is a great way to determine what type of password to assign. https://pixelprivacy.com/resources/reusing-passwords/
2) For accounts that do hold important information use a strong password, these are passwords that look like 'goobldy goop' for example 88Si16yI32!!6. Strong passwords are impossible to remember but they do ensure your information is much more secure than a plain password. Make sure for each account the strong password is unique. And the longer your password the better – we recommend at least 10 characters. There are many free strong password generators online ie: https://strongpasswordgenerator.com/.
And now you’re thinking how am I ever going to remember these passwords….
3) You’re not. You will need to store your passwords so it is important to consider how best to do this. There are a few options:
a. To be really safe there are password manager software applications available such as 1password, lastpass and passpack these help you store all your passwords securely behind one master password (that you will need to remember). These are great for peace of mind security and they can also be set up so that you can access all of your passwords across all of your devices. The downside is that there can be a charge for these services. To find out more click through on the links above.
b. Store them in a spreadsheet on your computer, however MAKE SURE:
- Make sure the spreadsheet is not called ‘Passwords’ or something else that is a dead giveaway.
- Make sure you don’t store it on your desktop – hide it within a folder structure.
- If you leave your computer – NEVER leave it open on screen.
- The spreadsheet is not in the cloud – just keep it locally on your computer.
- For extra safety you can also encrypt your passwords file (read more about this in tip 4)
c. Another option people often consider is writing them all down – for example in a little book. We don’t recommend this option for lots of reasons but if you do want to go down this route make sure to keep it somewhere safe (not right next to your computer). And don’t scribble in black permanent texta on the front ‘PASSWORDS.’
4) How do I encrypt my spreadsheet? If you do a quick Google search on how to encrypt your Excel spreadsheet (include in the search query your version of Excel) and you will quickly come up with the steps. For me with Excel 2010 I simply open the spreadsheet then go: File > Info > Permissions > Encrypt with Password.
5) Don’t type your passwords in – this is another great tip for password protection. Your key strokes used when you do this actually make stealing your passwords much easier. Instead it’s best to copy and paste your passwords in. This is one reason we prefer the online solutions to your handwritten book.
6) Don’t leave file sharing or remote access programs open on your computers. If you use programs like TeamViewer or LogMeIn then don’t leave these programs open and running on your computer. This would give someone easy access to your files.
7) Stop your browsers from saving your passwords. I know this is a super convenient feature of browsers – everyone has particular website accounts that are an integral part of 'doing business' and when you type in the website address your browser remembers the password and you are automatically logged in. This does safe time but at high risk. Some browsers like Firefox and Chrome actually store your passwords – and can easily be accessed by just a few clicks. I bet this is a surprise but try these simple steps:
- Firefox: Open your browser, click on your ‘Options Menu’ > ‘Options’ > ‘Security’ and click on ‘Saved Passwords’ then ‘Show Passwords’ – wow anyone can access them!
So our tip is to first remove all your stored passwords and then untick the ‘Remember passwords for sites.’
- Chrome: Open your browser and to the ‘Menu’ > ‘Settings’ > ‘Show Advanced Settings’ > ‘Manage Passwords’. And again all is revealed!! We advise deleting all of these and also untick ‘Offer to save your web passwords’.
That's our 7 tips for password management. However I will leave you with one final tip - don’t save your banking passwords – this is one place real damage can easily be done so try your best to memorise these passwords.
Share your tips below - we would love to hear how you manage your passwords.