It can be difficult to keep up with all of your various passwords, especially if those passwords are as strong as experts recommend.
What constitutes a strong password?
First, it’s a password you don’t use anywhere else. That means the work of creating and remembering a long, complex password with letters, numerals and special symbols has to be done over and over.
It’s no wonder that some people use password managers. A password manager service is like taking all of your online accounts and putting them inside a big warehouse, and then securing the warehouse door with an even stronger lock.
Depending on the password manager you choose to use, your warehouse door might require a simple combination lock, or it can require two-step authentication. Think of two-step authentication as the equivalent of putting a burly security guard at the door who demands two photo IDs every time you try to get in.
Things to consider about password managers
Opinions differ about these services. Some of them are basically just smartphone apps that store all the passwords for you. If someone gets your phone and manages to unlock it, they’ve got all your passwords in one place. Other services can be far more technologically sophisticated. Even so, the toughest security measures can sometimes be broken by a hacker with the right know-how. In at least one case, hackers accessed data at a password protection company.
So are password storing services a good idea or not? That’s a personal decision. If you have dozens or even hundreds of online accounts, you may have a hard time remembering all of the passwords if you’ve made them random enough and strong enough. If you only have a handful of websites where you spend your connected time, then you might not feel like the risk of a cyber thief accessing your data is worth it.
Either way, if your password is weak enough, it could be guessed, whether you use a password manager or not.
Is there a foolproof method? Probably not.
Take steps to help protect your data
Whether you write down your passwords and store them in a safe place, use a password manager, or choose any other method, there can be vulnerabilities in every case.
It’s smart to keep a careful eye on your accounts, and routinely update and change passwords. If you see suspicious behavior of any kind, immediately change the password to that particular site, as well to any sites that may be connected.
Passwords and what might be next
Next-generation technology that doesn’t rely on passwords as a method of verification could be the answer.
Companies are working on different types of authentication, including biometrics like the shape of your ear, or taking a selfie. It’s possible that these methods or others will become the standard.
In the meantime, take time to update your passwords and make them long, strong and unique. Keep track of them by your method of choice.
Editor’s note: This article was written by the Identity Theft Resource Center.
This content was lightly edited and updated on March 26, 2018.