Monday, September 22, 2014

Too Many Passwords! Pt.2

Image by Perspecsys Photos CC License
People store information, like usernames and passwords, in various formats, the key is to find the format that works best for you.  Like buying shoes, you might need to try several options before you find the right fit for you.  Once you find a method for storing or recording your passwords, make sure you keep it in a secure place.  Here are a few options for storing or recording your plethora of passwords.

Save them in your browser - When you log onto a web site for the first time, most browsers now ask if you want to save your password.  This is an option many people utilize so they don't have to remember those pesky passwords.  You can always go into the preferences and view or remove your passwords for specific websites.  Thanks to the syncing functions on Chrome, Safari and now Firefox, you don't have to worry about your computer crashing.  Those passwords are saved so you can just jump on another computer, log yourself in on the browser and have instant access to your saved passwords.

The drawback?  If someone steals or hacks your computer, they too have access to your saved passwords.  Another issue I've noticed with the saved passwords is the need to update your current password to a new password.  These browsers don't remove the old saved password, but create a new site entry in your saved passwords which can result in the wrong log in information auto-filling on a website.  The result - the "incorrect username or password" message.  Your best option is to go back to your preferences and remove the entry for the old password before saving the new password.

Image by Perspecsys Photos CC License
Password Managers - Many business people rely heavily on password managers like Dashlane1Password and LastPass.  These tools allow you to enter all your usernames and passwords for various websites, but then you create one strong master password so you can access all your usernames and passwords.  (It sounds like Lord of the Rings - "one ring to rule them all.")  I'm not sure about the drawbacks as I have not used a password manager yet myself.  However, like all things digital and stored in the cloud, you do take the risk of hackers accessing the company files, including your passwords.

For more on Password managers, check out these resources:
How Password Management Software Works
The Best Password Managers
2014 Best Online Password Manger Reviews

Create a spreadsheet - Use a spreadsheet creator like Excel or Numbers to create a document for storing your password information.  You might include columns for username, password, website name, and website link.  You might also want to include what email address you associated with that site.  The benefit of using a spreadsheet over a document is the ability to sort your information.  On the downside, the spreadsheet is only available on your computer so if you use a different machine you won't have access to your usernames and passwords.  One option for avoiding this problem is creating an online spreadsheet in Google Drive.

Little Black Book - When you say "Little Black Book," most people think about the bachelor's
Image from Pixabay
notebook full of names and numbers for women they call up and ask out on a date.  Some record additional information, but we won't go into that here.  Well, the same principal can be applied with your usernames and passwords.  A little notebook can be purchased for a couple of dollars and doesn't have to be black.  In your notebook, you write down the name of the website, your username, password and email address associated with the account.  I've known several teachers who have used this method for storing their passwords.

Drawbacks?  Finding a secure place to keep your little notebook without anyone else getting access to your information.  You also need to make sure you carry that little notebook around with you so you can access your passwords any time, any place.  Finally, you cannot sort your information.  So, it may take you longer to find the password you want depending on your notebook organization.  If you just add new entries when you create an account, then there is no way to easily search for a website.

Use an address book - While this is similar to the little black book method, this format allows you to at least alphabetize you entries by the website name.  It will cut down on your search time, but you are still tied to carrying your book around so you can have the information on hand.  You also have the obstacle of finding a secure place to store the book away from prying eyes.

You could go digital and use the contacts on your cell phone to record your usernames and passwords, but like the issue mentioned earlier with the computer, your accounts could be compromised if your phone is ever stolen.

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