The problem is this: The average Internet user has about twenty websites he or she uses on a regular basis that require them to log in. Nobody wants to be bothered with remembering twenty unique user ID’s and twenty unique passwords – who would? Who has the time for all that? The solution then, is to simply use a “master password” for all your accounts. That can come back to bite you though, because if your data are ever compromised in one of the high profile corporate hacking attacks, if the hackers gain one password, they get the proverbial keys to your kingdom. Using your “master password,” they can access everything from your email to your bank accounts. Not a pretty picture, so the question becomes, what can you do about it?
Fortunately, there are a number of good solutions. One of them is to start using a password manager. Some of these are actually software you install, and some are purely web based. Whichever you opt to use, they both operate on the same basic principle. The idea is that you set up an account with a password manager, using a unique and difficult-to-guess password. Then, you store all your other passwords inside the “password safe.” When you go to log on somewhere, your password is retrieved from the password safe. It adds an extra layer of password security, which gives you significantly more protection, provided of course, that the password safe you’re using isn’t hacked.
Unfortunately, that happened just last year to a company called “LastPass,” which is one of the more popular such solutions. They made several public claims about being un-hackable, and it came back to haunt them. On the whole though, these solutions are quite good, and your personal accounts are much more secure using them than not, and since last year’s breach, LastPass has upgraded their security and stopped taunting the hackers.