Recently, hackers have become even more savvy at garnering our personal information through our personal computers. They can duplicate our email addresses, coax us into clicking on a link or promise us we have won a substantial amount of money. How do hackers figure out passwords? Hackers purchase lists of usernames and passwords that have been breached by companies. Since most people reuse passwords, the easiest way for a hacker to gain access to your personal computer is by weak or repetitive passwords. According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 86% of hacker’s attacks are financially motivated1 with most of the breaches gained through weak or reused passwords.
It is very important that you do not use the same password for every single account, write your passwords down on paper and keep them in an unsecured area, use your web browser to store your passwords or keep using the same password for an extended period. Creating strong passwords is essential to the security of your personal information. So, what is the best way to keep all your passwords secure? We recommend using a password management system that has one master password and generates a unique password for all other websites.
What does a password manager do? A password manager can:
• Create new secure passwords for you
• Show how strong your passwords are and if you are at risk
• Store information such as PIN codes and membership IDs
• Keep important documents in your private vault
• Fill out addresses and credit card forms
In addition to providing the best possible security against your computer being compromised, password managers are convenient and save time. There are many different companies that offer password management systems, usually for a reasonable annual fee. The most important thing to remember is that you use a strong and unique master password to access your vault within the password management system. This will not only protect you from a brute-force attack but will also ensure that a breach at another random website won’t affect your main password account.
What does it take to create a stronger master password to access your vault? A simple strategy for creating a memorable but difficult to crack master password is to use a passphrase. A passphrase is a sequence of random words and characters strung together to create a password. The difference is that a passphrase is typically longer, with at least 20 to 30 characters. By using a combination of words and/or characters that only make sense to you, it is usually easy to remember.
Creating a strong passphrase is easy. We recommend that you use a phrase that is distinctive to your life that you can easily recall. Remember– you will only have to memorize ONE passphrase to access your secure vault–the password manager will take care of the rest. Here are some examples of good passphrases:
At our firm, we use LastPass as our password management system. LastPass is a secure password manager that stores all your usernames and passwords in one safe place, called a Vault. After you save a password to your Vault, LastPass always remembers it for you. When you need to log into a website, LastPass enters your username and password for you. It can also generate a unique password for all your frequented websites.
If you are interested in learning more about LastPass or need help with setting up your account, please contact our office and we will be happy to make an appointment to show you how a password manager is the most secure way to keep your personal information safe.
1Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report
Note: LastPass is currently available for $36/year annually