March 11, 2016

Dear Dad, it’s time that we had an important talk about technology. We have to talk about passwords. As you know nearly every website asks you to create an account and each account needs a password. It is important that these passwords are secure.

Why you need better passwords

There are bad people out there who are looking to steal your stuff or abuse you. They want your credit card information, social security number, and even want to install software on your computer. Why do they want to install software on your computer? They want to turn your computer — the one with all of the pictures of your grandkids on it — into a bot that lets them try to break into other people’s computers.

All of that bad stuff is why we’re going to talk about passwords and password managers.

What is a good password?

A good password is one that is tough for hackers to guess. I’ll skip the details but this means the password is either a long string of random words — daddy-hectare-sunfish-tee-jute-grizzly — or is something that looks like the cat walked across your keyboard — gXnsdoUf4WR2RXt,?.

The other part of a good password is that it is unique. This means each password that you have is only used by you for one account. That’s it. ONE. Your email, Facebook, and Ebay accounts should never share a password.

You see, if a hacker has your password then it is likely that they also have your email address. And since all of your accounts use your email address, the first thing that they’ll try to do is use that combination to log into other sites. So if they get your Facebook password they’ll have their bots try logging into other big sites, like your bank. And if you reuse passwords (or even similar passwords) a breach in one of them is a breach in all of them.

Managing passwords

I know that I’ve given you this advice in the past and you took it to heart. In fact, you bought yourself an address book and you’ve been writing down all of your passwords. But you carrying around that address book full of passwords is a problem.

  • If you misplace it, POOF, it’s all gone.
  • If someone steals your purse, BANG, they have access to your bank accounts.

Introducing password managers

There is a better way to manage passwords and they’re called password managers. They are a service that allows you to manage all of your passwords digitally with military-grade encryption.

Here is how they work — you create a vault that has a master password. This is the only password that you have to memorize. That’s it, one password.

Once you enter your vault you’ll be able to store passwords for all of the sites that you visit. In fact the vault will help you create passwords that you’ll never have to remember that are secure.

There are extensions that you can add to your Web browser that will automatically enter your login information when you visit a site. So not only do you save on having to look up the password, you won’t even have to type it in.

Where can you get a password manager?

The one that I recommend is called 1Password. It’s easy-to-use and has a good design. You buy the app and can use it forever. The drawback is that you’ll have to buy a version for each type of device, so once for your Mac and once for you phone. After you’ve bought it for a device type you won’t have to buy it again, i.e. you don’t have to buy it for each phone you have.

Another one that I’ve used is called LastPass. It is a strong competitor for 1Password but I find that it can be hard to use at times. The upside is that you buy this as a subscription, so you pay for it yearly and can use it on any device.

One of those options, 1Password or LastPass, would be good for you to use.

Glad that we had this talk

Dad, you’ve done such a good job taking care of me and so I appreciate you listening to me on the topic of getting yourself a password manager. I want your digital life to be as safe as it can be. <3.

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Randy Oest
March 11, 2016

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Randy Oest He is an avid Star Trek fan, plays too many board games, and bought his mother an iPad so that he wouldn't have to fix her computer anymore.

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