Generally speaking, prior to the internet, society had little use for passwords with the exception of espionage. Nonetheless, over the years, passwords and usernames have become an increasingly essential component of daily life, as individuals have multiple passwords for social networking, shopping, banking, etc. To aid in recalling this information, many utilize faulty security strategies such as repeatedly using the same password or displaying their passwords on a sticky note hanging from their monitor. Barnes and Noble even sells an ‘Internet Address & Password Organizer’ that acts like a Rolodex to clearly record one’s security information. Unlike an address book, the information is analogous to the contents of one’s wallet and needs to be stored in a “safe” location.
In addition to proper password storage, one must create “strong” passwords. Microsoft’s Safety and Security Center, recommends the following four criteria when choosing a password:
1. Length - a bare minimum of eight characters; yet, a ‘Macworld’ article prefers a password between 11 to 17 characters, as it is more difficult to decipher
2. Complexity - utilize letters and numbers but also punctuation marks and symbols with the goal of creating a random password
3. Variation - change passwords often, preferably once every three months
4. Variety - create a unique password for each website to prevent all of your online accounts becoming compromised when a single password is stolen
One solution to both appropriate password storage as well as creation of strong passwords is the application called ‘1Password’ ($49.99 for Mac or Windows). Per the software’s namesake, all that is needed is a single password in order to access an encrypted database of stored passwords, notes, software licenses, attachments, and credit cards. Moreover, the program contains a fully customizable password generator that is able to create passwords up to 50 characters in length! Aside from accessing the encrypted database via the ‘1Password’ application on a computer, there is also an iOS application for ‘1Password’ ($17.99 via iTunes App Store) to securely access your database with an iPhone and/or iPad. ‘1Password’ for the Mac paired with its iOS app is a useable and simple solution for keeping online identities protected.