Teaching & Learning Tech Tips

Forgot Your Password?

‘Your password must contain 8-30 characters, a special character and a number.’ How can you possibly keep track?
 

Huge security data breach headlines seem to be the norm these days. They’re scary, and it seems no institution is safe from them. In the last five years, hackers have compromised user account data from major platforms like Marriott, Equifax, Anthem, Facebook, and the mothership of them all — Yahoo, with over 3 billion users affected.

To keep yourself safe in the event of a data intrusion, you need strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. According to a recent Virginia Tech study, more than half of us reuse the same password on multiple websites, especially as sites begin to require longer and more complex logins. If a big company does get hacked, and you have the same password on multiple accounts, hackers will easily be able to get into all of them.

How do I keep my accounts safe? Use a password manager!

A password manager is a secure locked vault of your usernames and passwords that helps defend against hackers. It solves the problem of generating strong unique passwords, and acts like a digital wizard filling in your login info whenever you need to log into a site. Most popular password managers (like the ones in the sidebar below) also encrypt your data across devices, which means your login information will be available on your computer, tablet and phone. Best of all, the only thing you’ll have to remember is one (very secure) master password for the manager itself, and everything else is taken care of for you.

What about built-in browser password managers like Apple Keychain or Google Smart Lock?

Most Web browsers like Safari and Chrome already offer to save and autofill your passwords for you, and it’s certainly better than reusing weak passwords. Password managers like LastPass and 1Password go a step further and alert you about weak and reused passwords, and when to update a password because a service you use has been hacked. They allow sharing of passwords and other information between family members and friends.

Bonus tip:

Want to check to see if your accounts have been compromised in a data breach? Check here: haveibeenpwned.com.


Best free password manager

LastPass
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome OS
Free; additional features for fee
LastPass supports all major platforms and syncs across unlimited devices. (Since it’s free, it may be a good option for students if your school/district does not have a management system already.)

Best premium password manager

1Password
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome OS
Free 30-day trial, $2.99/month
1Password offers a more polished user interface, and adds an additional layer of security with their secret key plus master password approach.

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