What the Tech? “Spring Forward” and Change Your Passwords
We are often told that when we “spring forward” or “fall back” for the time change, it’s a good time to change the batteries in our smoke detectors. It’s also a good time to change your passwords.
If you’re not worried about bad guys stealing your passwords just know, it’s only a matter of time that everyone has one or many of their passwords stolen and sold on the dark web.
Bad guys spend every day looking for opportunities to trick people into giving up their log-in information one way or another. Maybe it’s from a data breach of a company without airtight security. It happens every day.
By now you probably know the best passwords contain 18 or more characters including a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You’ve no doubt heard you shouldn’t use the same password (no matter how strong it is) on multiple accounts.
It’s the safest way to keep your accounts to yourself but it’s also impractical. If you create strong passwords that a thief cannot crack it’s impossible for you to remember them all. This is where password managers make things easy.
LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane are password managers that work pretty much the same way. Once you download the app or create an account online, you’ll be asked to create a “Master Password”. This is the one you’ll be responsible for remembering.
Use the above formula to create the password or the password manager will do it for you. For example, your master password should be something like this: 97snu893(@HG-2x+3,wo9hn.
It could also be a series of random words separated by special characters.
Write it down on paper. Yes, paper. This will help you set this master password to memory. Hide the piece of paper in a book or under something in your office just in case you need it.
Once you’ve created your master password it’s time to change the passwords of all your critical accounts. Critical accounts are those that pose the biggest risk if a hacker were to access them.
● bank accounts
● credit card accounts
● LinkedIn and other social media accounts
● any website that has your credit card or bank account information stored for subscription
● Streaming services
You get the picture.
The password manager can generate new passwords for all of those accounts and save them in a “vault”. If you need to login on to a computer, smartphone, or tablet you can access them in the password manager by simply entering your master password.
You don’t have to do this all at once, just change your passwords to a rock-solid new generated password when you login the next time.
Since those passwords are so strong, you won’t need to change them frequently like you’re supposed to. If you want to take extra precautions, change your master password from time to time.
Now, the question you probably have is “what if a bad guy gets my master password?” Yep, they’d have access to all of your logins. That would be a major problem.
The good news is there’s a better chance a bad guy’s going to break into your house, search for and find the sheet of paper you wrote it on. LastPass and 1Password both use bank-level encryption and do not store the passwords on their servers.
Everything is saved on your phone so there’s little chance a data breach is going to reveal your master password. Notice I said “little chance” because you never rule anything out entirely when it comes to bad guys and data thieves.
Just know that in the years they’ve been operating neither LastPass nor 1Password have had a breach that dumped a bunch of master passwords in a bad guy’s lap.
LastPass and 1Password are subscription services and cost about $36 a year which is pretty cheap for that kind of protection and peace of mind. Dashlane’s subscription is $60 billed annually for premium but it also has a free option that stores up to 50 passwords but only on one device.
Dropbox also unveiled a password manager aspect of its premium services package so if you’re already using it, you won’t need to buy one of the other services. You just may need to upgrade from a free Dropbox account.