Safe passwords equal safe personal details
We’ve all been there: you’re on a website, perhaps about to log onto Saga Zone or buy something online, and you can‘t remember your password.
That familiar sinking feeling – followed by the exasperating new password rigmarole - requesting, resetting, confirming…only to forget the new one? Or maybe you use one password for all, or keep them scribbled down on a piece of paper. But the danger of the one-for-all approach is obvious, and scraps of paper are easy to lose - and none too secure either.
Passwords are here to stay, but your life online can be made simpler by using a programme that stores them for you, such as Password Manager.
And while you can pay upwards of £20 for the more sophisticated apps, perfectly good versions are available free.
To determine which app best meets your needs, consider whether you use more than one web browser, and how far you are happy with storing your passwords online.
Popular web browsers have a built-in Password Manager app for storing online passwords, but you risk losing them under certain conditions. These apps are meanwhile not browser independent; if, like me, you use more than one web browser, you cannot access passwords stored from one browser in another.
The more flexible and probably safer route is to use a Password Manager program. The choice here is between an online Password Manager - allowing you to access passwords from any computer - and a programme that stores them on your machine.
The level of security with all these online Managers is high – the success of the programme after all depends on their being ultra-safe. Popular online Password Manager LastPass nevertheless suffered a security scare in 2011, although there is no evidence an actual breach occurred. While plenty of tecchie types are still content to store their data with it and other online Password Managers, security experts disagree as to their safety.
If you are not totally happy about trusting your passwords to a remote server, you would probably prefer a programme that stores the data on your desktop.
Keywallet does just this. It’s browser independent and you only have to remember a single master password - just make sure you do remember it!
KeePass is a desktop alternative, allowing you to store information other than passwords besides.
PasswordSafe offers both an online and desktop option, and works on all platforms.
If you use more than one computer, a desktop Password Manager will mean you have to install a version of the programme on every machine and enter the passwords on each one – not very practical.
If you’re comfortable with the online route, Password++ is one alternative to LastPass.
Clipperz allows you to store passwords online, along with credit card and bank details - in fact, anything you want - and can generate passwords.
The existence of password generators betrays the widespread practice of choosing weak passwords. Whether you go for a Password Manager or not, you should review your passwords and consider making them harder to guess and more varied. Other programmes are available.