Drowning in Passwords: Tips to Stay Safe and Sane

November 9, 2009 – 4:15 PM

If you spend much time online, you probably have the same problem I do: How to remember your ever-growing list of online usernames and passwords-and stay secure at the same time.

You’re savvy enough to know that identity theft and illegal access to personal and financial data are real-world problems that you want to avoid. But what are you doing about it? Odds are, not much, says Andrew Jaquith, a computer security analyst at Forrester Research. “There are two classes of people; those who seem to care about the security of their accounts, and those who act as if they don’t.” Most people, he says, fall in the later category.

If you’re one of the majority, your security strategy may be nothing more than using a single password for every site you need to access. On the one hand, the chances of it being stolen aren’t terribly high and you probably won’t forget it. But if it is stolen, the malefactor will have access to your entire online life, including bank accounts and maybe medical records. Not a pretty thought.

It turns out that there are a number of strategies that will help you avoid that ugly scenario. Most of them are simple, free or quite inexpensive, and much more secure than what you’re doing now. But some are just halfway measures that could let you down in a pinch.


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