Managing Your Passwords

Cyber attacks.  Stolen account information.  Phishing scams.  Identify theft.  The headlines are full of these incidents.  Makes it seem like the internet is a dangerous place indeed and you’re risking your financial future every time you check your email or your bank balance.

What’s the most common advice given to help you to protect your online identity?  Change your passwords often, don’t use the same password for everything and make your passwords complex and difficult to determine.  Of course.  That makes sense.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Sure, I know I need to do those things, but how am I supposed to remember multiple complex passwords?”  I completely understand.

So, what are we to do?  Here are some of the approaches used.

  • Forget that different password for every site nonsense.  Just use the same one for everything and try to use something that satisfies most of the password rules.  Invariably you’ll encounter a site with password rules that require you to alter your tried and true password in some way.  Now you have exceptions.
  • Some people record all of their passwords in some kind of document file stored on the computer.  I think the problem with this is obvious.  If someone else gets access to your files, they have all of your passwords.  And what about if you find the need to access your email from some other location or device?  You don’t have your password file, so, no can do.

Since we travel quite a bit we’re always using our laptop from different locations on a variety of Wi-Fi networks with questionable security precautions.  In addition, at times when outside of the US, we have needed to access our email from an internet café, sometimes so that we can print some travel document or simply don’t have access to the internet with our laptop.

What I’m going to describe to you is a solution that solves this problem so that you can use different complex passwords for each of your logins, change them as frequently as you wish, use them from any computer and not have to remember any of the passwords.  OK, you will have to remember one.  And this solution is available at no cost.  I know, sounds like a slick sales pitch but I have nothing to sell.  Certainly there are other approaches but I am successfully using this one and I know it works.

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The solution is Norton Identity Safe.  I discovered this by using the Norton 360 product for antivirus protection and found that Identity Safe was included with it.  However, anyone can download the Identity Safe client and use it at no cost.

When you use Identity Safe (IS) it integrates with your browser, IE, Chrome, Firefox so that when you log into a website it will save the website URL along with your login credentials so that the next time you bring up the login screen for this website Identity Safe will automatically fill in the account name and password for you.  You will configure IS with a Vault password to protect this list of websites and passwords.  You will need to provide the Vault password before IS can fill in your credentials for you.  This “master password” is one that you will want to make complex and keep it safe.  It is essentially the only password you will need to remember.  All the rest of your passwords will be stored in IS.  You can now make your passwords as complex as you wish.  When you change a password and update it in IS you will not have to remember it.  IS will provide it for you from then on.

If you need to access one of your websites from another computer, you’re covered.  You will log into the IS website and use your Vault password to access all of your login information.  Your online vault is fully encrypted and your Vault password is known only to you.  It is the only way to decrypt your login information.  If you lose it or forget it, you will have to start over.  There is no other way to retrieve your password vault.

Let’s say you also have a mobile device, IOS or Android.  You can use the Identity Safe app to give the same access to your login details.  So across devices and browsers your login credentials are safe and in sync.

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