Recently the Wall Street Journal published this article on passwords, seniors and how easy they are to crack (passwords, not seniors). It reminded me of a funny movie clip (watch it but come back here):
As you get more comfortable with living your life on the Internet, you begin to take advantage of things like online banking or online shopping (and giving companies your credit card information along the way). The more points of interaction online, the greater the risk that things can go wrong. Unfortunately, too many people use easy-to-guess passwords and usernames putting their information and money at risk. As the Wall Street Journal shared, the fastest growing segment of Internet users are between 70 and 75 years old — so seniors are dealing with this problem as much as anyone.
While the Wall Street Journal article gave some good pointers on how to create strong passwords, there were two pieces of advice they missed or gave short shrift. First, you need to have different passwords for different accounts. Using the same 4 passwords (strong or not) won’t do. The rationale for having multiple passwords is simple — if your password is guessed or compromised then all accounts using that password are at risk. Like a bomb, you want to isolate and contain the potential damage. The Wall Street Journal says that it’s too difficult to do, but I’m going to give you a great resource in a moment.
Second, for your more important and sensitive passwords (like banking and places holding sensitive information, but not, say, the login to your local library reservation system), you will want to change your passwords twice a year. My friend David Sparks (also a lawyer and a fellow Mac geek) recommends you schedule your change passwords when the daylight savings time changes.
You’re probably saying, “How am I supposed to remember all of those passwords or come up with so many different ones?”
Here is the good news – you don’t have to. There are great computer programs that will store all of your passwords for you, help you generate strong and complex ones, and keep all kinds of sensitive information encrypted (like software licenses or banking information). I recommend and use 1Password. It’s a great software program that has Mac OS, Windows, iPhone, iPad, and Android versions. The software syncs your passwords across devices so you can have access to them whether you are at your laptop or on your mobile device. The software even comes with extensions (installed buttons) for your web browser that will help you fill in those passwords when you need to use them.
Even better news, the company that makes the software is running a July 4th special offering 30% off all of its products (sale is available now). So, there is no excuse not to pick up a copy for every device.
Posted by Victor Medina
Medina Law Group, LLC and The New Jersey Estate Planning Center