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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Password Frustration

Another password to remember!
If you're anything like me, you get very frustrated that you need to have so many different passwords at various online sites to keep your information secure.

Depending on the level of security consciousness of a website,  your password may need to be very "strong" which means you have to include a combination of upper and lower case alpha letters with numbers and maybe even a symbol or two.  Honestly, this is the model you should use for all of your online sites.   It's hard to remember a lot of passwords with this type of strong format so you may be tempted to create one password that will work at all of your sites.  But that's dangerous too.  If  that one password gets into the wrong hands, then those hands have access to everything! 

Password Perils 


Our own Dr Hinrichs wrote a blog about password perils earlier.  Click here to read that helpful blog.  She mentioned using password vaults to help solve this issue and that is a great solution. I personally use LastPass where I add all of my passwords and associated web links into the vault, then use one very secure master password to access all of my sites.  Even I can remember one password!  Some may be afraid of using vaults too.  But education is key to understanding that this is a very secure and viable solution.  The vault option can be made even more secure with an optional device such as the Yubico.  If you register that device to your vault, anyone trying to access your vault is also required to have that device.   These are very affordable and secure options that will greatly reduce your password frustration level, yet keep your digital resources safe.

Is the fear justified?

Every generation has a "new thing" that comes along that makes them nervous and skeptical.  When electricity was new,  many feared it was emitting dangerous rays.  The phone was feared for various reasons; the automobile,  computers; the list goes on and on.  Cloud computing is the latest new thing in our generation.

When an organization gets "hacked", it makes big news.  But honestly, how often do we hear about that happening?  Yes, some sites do get hacked, and it's usually related to a process breach, a failure to encrypt data kept on the site, or an inside job.  It's not unlike the fear of flying because of headline news coverage of a plane crash.  Yet most don't fear traveling in cars even though the likelihood of an automobile crash is many times higher.

Are you the weak link?


In reality,  the greatest risk to security vulnerability is ourselves.  Some of the things that many of us do can result in our data being compromised and those things include: using a weak password, allowing applications to access our Facebook accounts (to play games for example);  using unsecured free Wi-Fi hotspots; open browsing (not using https);  and downloading various applications and software from unknown sources.   In general, you don't want to access your bank account from a machine that you (or your kids) have loaded random programs and games on, or access any important site while using free internet access someplace.  And remember, email is not secure.  Never send sensitive information via email.

There are many good articles on the internet that give information regarding what steps to take to keep your information safe.  One key tip is, be sure your web browser (IE, Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc) is set to browse in secure mode.  If you're not sure how to configure that, here's a helpful link:  How To configure my broswer.

Most Important of all!


Physical security!  Don't keep important documents and personal information on your computers or other mobile devices that can easily be lost or stolen. That's what SafelyFiled is for!  Not only do we require a "strong" password, we also encrypt ALL information stored on our site, which means, even IF someone could get access to the servers, they couldn't access your information. Plus, this information is kept safe from flood, fire, sink holes and other natural disasters and is backed up for you regularly so you don't have to worry if you loose a hard drive.

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  1. This is a timely and informative article. The links are useful and I feel a lot better about utilizing a password keeper! Thanks!

  2. Since writing this blog, we've added a free checklist to our website at www.safelyfiled.com called Managing Your Digital Legacy. Download that checklist to help you record all of your digital assets (something that many don't think about but is very important in our current digital age) and account information.