kpatyhka/Shutterstock.com

How to Remember All Your Passwords and Keep Them Safe

For anyone who’s been a web user for a significant amount of time, the number of such accounts that require passwords is high, unmanageable even.

In the days after the Heartbleed story broke, Internet users were strongly advised to change the compromised passwords on their online accounts to protect their data.

For anyone who’s been a web user for a significant amount of time, the number of such accounts is high, unmanageable even: email (personal and work), LinkedIn, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, bank accounts, G+, Apple ID, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, news sites, Yahoo!… Hotmail? AIM? ICQ? Myspace? mIRC? The innovation economy’s proliferation of apps, services and devices has complicated our lives, rather than make them simpler, the way technology should.

Heartbleed woke the world up to security and privacy, but it also revealed how thinly our online identities are spread across different platforms, putting the user at risk and also impairing their ability to be productive, collaborative and high-functioning.

What happened to the web

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, envisioned an internet that improved how we communicate. In his 1999 book Weaving the Web, he said:

“The Web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect—to help people work together—and not as a technical toy.”

In some ways, this happened: we have access to global repositories of knowledge, and there are options for free and inexpensive tools, software and storage on the web.

But in other ways, we’re more distracted, misunderstood and mentally scattered than ever. Recent research found average users switch between their devices as many as 21 times an hour. The multi-platform, multi-device world shattered our attention spans—400 milliseconds can be too long for users to wait for a page to load, shorter social media post or videos are more likely to get likes and shares.

Users—as well as technology vendors, service providers and governments—cannot expect that more apps and services will optimize the web experience. Instead, innovators and disruptors need to understand the importance of open technology, emphasize interoperability and transparency, and promote security, privacy and ease of use. But this won’t happen without the aid of better and more thoughtful web-based software.

Make the best of the cloud

If it isn’t already clear based on the ubiquitous presence of cloud services (a market worth more than $131 billion), web-based software is how work and play will be done from now on. And despite security and privacy risks (whether from prying governments or cyber-criminals), web-based software has the ability to bring the many accounts, apps and services we use together into streamlined channels. A single cloud-based user portal, which can be used on any device with a browser, can provide access to all our social media accounts, email, file storage and even document collaboration tools on a single screen.

The danger is that new apps and services too often create proprietary walls. Apple, Google and Microsoft have made it easier to access their services via the cloud, but they haven’t made it easier to access other services. This one-minded game doesn’t suit modern users, with hundreds of accounts, apps and passwords. It also doesn’t foster a collaborative web. That’s why the global cloud infrastructure must be open, with open APIs, source code and even hardware specs.

The password problem

Of course, even with a streamlined, open web solution for all the apps, there is still the problem of having hundreds of passwords. Unfortunately there is no technological solution today that will make it easy to remember all of your passwords while still keeping them secure. However, there is a fairly straightforward, two-step approach to passwords that will put a user at far less risk.

First, you need a method of easily remembering your unique passwords without having to save them to your browser’s cookies. One method is to base them on the first letter of each account. For example, your Facebook password would correspond to (F), which could mean “favorite film.” If your favorite film is Star Wars, you might then pick your favorite character: Han Solo. Then, your password could be Solo, plus some combination of numbers and symbols that isn’t related to any of your personal data but instead has a hidden personal meaning—for example, you first saw Star Wars on your 7th birthday, which was in 1983, at your Uncle John’s house. So the password for Facebook is now Solo7_1983@johns. Not a foolproof system, because the most dedicated hacker can crack any password, but it’s much better than using variations on the same password for all accounts.

The second part is never store your passwords or other account information in a public cloud, where they could always be at risk of leaking or being hacked. Never store passwords in a Google Doc, or even in your smartphone’s notepad app—you’re asking for trouble.

Reprinted with permission from Quartz. The original story can be found here. 

(Image via kpatyhka/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.