If you have been paying attention to the news for the past couple weeks you know that yet another very large data breach has happened and billions more passwords and other personal data has been stolen. (Yahoo breach) This just another, in a long string, of examples of how much you may think your data is safe it truly is not. It is true that most companies have accepted that they will at one point lose important data either by hackers or virus in many circles it is not just a matter of if but when. This is something that you should also think about personally. 

If you are like most people (myself included) you use a great password, you have put a lot of thought into it and know that you have followed all of the general guidelines to make a good password – long, capitalized and non-capitalized letters, special characters… and the list goes on. After all this work you know that your password is invincible to someone trying to break into your system. Here is the problem though – you use this password for everything. In fact, you find that this password is so good you use it for banking, your systems accounts, Amazon, etc… Well, what happens when one of those places you trust to guard your password has a data breach? Whoever enacted the breach now has access to all the other places you have used the password. It is the same as using the same key for your house that you use for your work, your car, lockbox, etc. Now with that one key, the thief does not need to work hard to steal everything from you, they just need to have a copy of that key. 

This is one of the most vulnerable parts of relying on a password that you should know. Not only does it protect a part of your life, it protects many parts if you use it over and over. Worse yet, when did you change this great password last? Nobody tends to change passwords unless they are told to do so, and then reluctantly they will do so but only alter it very slightly. So a data breach which happened last year may still have implementations on your life today. 

So the question is, what can I do as this seems to be a problem without a good solution? Well, there is a solution and it’s not nearly as hard as you may think – Password Managers! The use of a password manager can help you to have many different various and complicated passwords which you can use without even having to remember them. This is one of the best solutions which you can employ to help protect your passwords. They rely on only one “master” password, this password will unlock an encrypted file which contains all your passwords that you can then access and use. They can remind you when to change passwords and have some very advanced features that can be employed to further protect yourself. 

I personally use LastPass Who uses the slogan “Simplify your life”. They integrate into all browsers and will even fill in your passwords into websites for you. All you need to do is remember your one password. Create new passwords on the fly as you sign up for things and it will even generate then store them for you. It is using this that can help you limit your vulnerability if one of your trusted sites is compromised.

There are other options as well, for work I use a program called KeePass. This program does not rely on an internet connection and remains on your machine as an encrypted file which you unlock with the password. This is a great option for work where you need a lot of internal passwords for machines and systems. 

There are many other options which you can look into but these are good places to start. I recommend if you have not done so already – change your password and get a good password manager so the next time a company loses your data it is only the data on their site and not access to your entire world. 

Sparrowhawk – Keeping your technology safe.