Oh My Tech!: Navigating the nightmare of multiple logins, passwords
Whenever I go to the home of a friend or relative to try to make things right on their computers or software, invariably the biggest obstacle I run into is being able to access what needs fixing.
That's because invariably whomever I'm helping can never remember the login and password he or she uses. For example, I recently spent two more hours than I needed to working on my cousin's iPad because she couldn't remember the passwords for either her email or iTunes account.
In a way, I can't really blame anyone who has a hard time remembering. In the ever-increasing virtualization of our world from managing our bank accounts to enjoying movies on Netflix we almost always need a login and password to protect every aspect of our life.
In an October 2011 survey by security firm Lieberman Software, 51 percent of IT professionals said they had 10 or more passwords to remember for work. Nearly half, or 42 percent, said their IT staffs were sharing passwords to systems or applications.
I probably have more than a dozen online accounts that require passwords. Remembering how to access them all can be a nightmare.
You would think an easy solution might be to use just one login and password for everything. That certainly would make things easy, but doing so could be a security disaster if a hacker discovers them making it simple to wreak havoc on every account you have.
Many people I know will tape their logins and passwords onto their computers. I don't have to tell you how dangerous that is. In fact, one person I know has her entire list of logins and passwords for all of her accounts listed in a text file in her smartphone she named "Passwords." Um, not the smartest move.
Perhaps the best answer is to use password management software. This is a program tied to all of your accounts that stores all of their passwords and lets you access each by using the same long, robust universal password.
I haven't had the opportunity to review any, but PC Magazine recently posted an article in which it recommend several management programs. With thanks, here's are some of the favorites:
Kaspersky Password Manager ($24.95) • This program also includes a USB portable edition that you can use on other computers away from home.
LastPass (free) • This program got PC Magazine's highest recommendation. There's also a premium version that costs $12 per year. With the latter, you can also use it on mobile devices such as your smartphone.
RoboForm Desktop ($29.99) • Although well reviewed, it's said to be limited for use on only one computer. But for an additional $19.95 per year, you can also get RoboForm Everywhere, which lets you install it on any number of computers and then synchronize them through an online account.