Managing those passwords!

I have more than 50 online accounts, and with each, another ID and password. How does this happen?! Most of us have multiple email accounts, numerous accounts for monthly bills, accounts for blogs, online stores, and of course, accounts for college services like ANGEL and WebAdvisor. Keeping track of everything can be exhausting, and often frustrating!

There are many strategies for solving this problem. Some are good, and some are not. Online identity crimes are serious, and becoming more common, so we’ve got to be smart about this. Should you write the passwords down on 50 different pieces of scrap paper, get your passwords tattooed to your body, or just try to remember them? Nope, nope and nope!

More people are now using password managers. For example, you can use an online password manager like passpack.com, or purchase password management software like one of these. The other option is to develop your own system. My system has served me well, though I’m considering trying out a password manager as my list gets longer and longer. If you want to try out my method, follow these steps:

  1. Start by making a list (with pen and paper) of each web service that you have an account with, including the ID and password for each.
  2. Take a moment to review this information. If you’re reusing the same 2 passwords over and over… you’re not safe! If you’re using your birth date or your daughter’s middle name with a “1” at the end, you’re not safe! You need to be creative, and you need to use letters and numbers that have meaning to only you. Come up with 4 or 5 different passwords that can be varied across the different accounts.
  3. Log in to each account and update your old passwords with the new, SAFER passwords that you just came up with.
  4. Now shred the old list and start a new list. Again, write down the log in IDs for each account, but instead of writing down the passwords next to each account, write down only a password hint for yourself. The hint should help you remember the password, but not contain the actual password (obvious, I know, but I’ve seen it all)!

Also, remember to rotate and update passwords regularly. This can be as simple as rearranging the order of the letters and numbers in your passwords, or rotating passwords between accounts. Anything that you can do to keep your passwords fresh and hard to guess, will help keep you and your identity safe!

How do YOU manage your passwords? Have you tried an password manager? Do you have your own system? Feel free to share in the comments section below?

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