Incredibly Exciting Passwords01/30/2014
Passwords are extraordinarily exciting, they provide an endless source of conversation and...O. K. I may be going a little over board here but I needed to get your attention. Lets face it, passwords are boring, they don't offer any entertainment and can be a pain to remember. Maintaining passwords is similar to monitoring your cholesterol or keeping an eye on your diet, not very much fun but critically important.
A recent hack of the popular messaging app SnapChat left 4.6 million user accounts vulnerable as their phone numbers and usernames were posted online by hackers. Reports like this should prompt users to change their passwords and evaluate the risks, if any, of using a specific app or program. No program is hack proof but SnapChat was notified of the problems last summer by Gibson Security. It is easy to point fingers but the real truth is that we are responsible for our own security.
As users of any service we need to assess the risk, implement a plan to deal with that risk and proceed with caution. I am not suggesting that everyone become a security expert, although a crash course in Internet safety wouldn't hurt many technology users. In many cases, the risk of using a specific program or app can be substantially reduced by using strong passwords. The real question is how can we generate and keep track of all of these secure passwords.
There are several programs available that not only generate secure passwords for you but also store them in an encrypted vault or database. The encryption is typically 256 bit or higher (extremely secure) and you only have to remember one password to access your secure login information.
I currently use Roboform, an established and well regarded program offering both a limited free and paid pro version. All I have to do to log in to a website (assuming I have already logged in to Roboform) is click the login link and it opens my browser if necessary, fills the login fields and logs me in. I can export my logins, synch them in the cloud if I wish (I don't), store and fill form fields and more.
LastPass is a free, open source program that is highly regarded and boasts of many features similar to Roboform. LastPass utilizes an encrypted cloud feature as well and is highly rated in expert reviews.
KeePass Password Safe is another free program with a nice feature set. Visit their website to find out more about the product and to determine if it is right for you.
Each of these programs can generate passwords but if you don't want to use a password manager it is still important to use strong passwords. Most experts state that a password should be 10 characters long at the very least, include letters, numbers, other characters and be certain that the string is randomly generated. There are many sites online that will generate secure passwords for you.
Gibson Research Corp. offers highly secure passwords generated behind an ssl connection. 64 character long random passwords are generated that can be used in whole or in part as a personal password.
Norton Identity Safe also offers secure passwords generated to your specifications (limited to 32 characters).
Secure Password Generator allows you to tailor the password it generates for you and offers several important tips at the bottom of the page.
You can secure your own password list with a freeware program like TrueCrypt that offers on the fly encryption.
Managing the myriad of passwords and logins that many have today does not have to be a daunting task. Using the tips and programs we have reviewed should make the process simple even if it isn't exciting.