How to Escape Password Hell

We are in password hell and I’m going to explain how you can escape. Every site or system you use now requires a password. That could mean you end up creating upwards of 30 passwords. To comply with security best practice, each one of those passwords should be a completely random collection of 12 or more upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. No intelligible words or names and certainly not “123456” or “password1”.

Of course, that’s an impossible situation for most people, and by that, I mean those of us without a photographic memory. Most people end up using the same password everywhere, and that is usually something easy to remember, like “Rover12”, because your dog’s name is Rover and he was born in December.

You might think that is quite secure. Who would bother to do the research to work that out? The answer is nobody. They wouldn’t have to. The combination of a word or name and two numbers is a common password format. And Rover appears in almost every dictionary so they can use brute force. According to the How Secure is My Password site , a normal computer would take just 1 minute to crack that.

There is a way out of this hell. And the first step is to create a really strong password that you can remember.

How to create a strong password that you can remember

1: Think of a phrase that you can remember

For example:

“Computer Troubleshooters are the best, always friendly, professional and helpful”

2: Extract the first letter of each word

CTatbfpafpah

3: Think of a memorable 3 or 4 digit number

1016 (October 2016 was the month CTNS had its first customer)

4: Add your numbers to your letters. Ideally, split the letters into two groups and put the numbers between them.

CTatb1016afpah

5: Now add some symbols

 £CTatb1016afpah*        (Author’s note: That’s not my actual password!)

And that makes a strong, apparently random 16-character password that How Secure is My Password calculates would take 1 trillion years to crack.

5: Now practise it a few times.

You will be surprised how quickly you can reliably remember it. So you never have to write it in your little notebook or put it on a post-it note or one of the other massively unsecure ways we have to remember tricky passwords.

Now, you might be thinking “Why don’t I use my incredibly strong password everywhere?” I will be honest and say, that’s what I did for many years. But then I heard about numerous high profile companies having their sites hacked and user details leaking out on to the dark web. It only needs one of the sites you frequent to be hacked and then the criminals have the password for all your accounts.

What you need now is a trustworthy software service that lets you have a unique, random, strong password for every site you have a logon for. And it lets you protect them with that one strong password that you can now remember. This type of software is called a Password Manager.

Using a Password Manager

So how does a password manager work? Once the software is installed and you have logged on with your super-secure password, it watches as you log on to websites, and it will offer to capture and store your logon details. It encrypts them using your strong password before it stores them. Without that password no-one will ever be able to read your logon details. Then when you go back to that site, the password manager will automatically fill in the logon details for you. There are a number of free or paid for options for Password Managers, but Computer Troubleshooters recommends Dashlane.

Dashlane Password Manager

Dashlane Password Manager

Dashlane has a free version which is great for trying it out but it only stores the logon locally. The paid for Premium version adds in synchronising of logons across mobile and desktop/laptop devices. And the Business version includes centralised management of users, allowing you to define logons that are related to your business, and revoke access to them when an employee leaves.

Once your passwords are stored securely in Dashlane, it can analyse them, tell you which ones are weak or even re-used across multiple sites and then change them for secure random passwords – automatically.

Dashlane will save you and your business time AND make you more secure.

Get in touch with Computer Troubleshooters North Staffs if you want to learn more about using Dashlane in your business.