Passwords stressing you out? Here’s how to manage them

·5 min read

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Stuck in password purgatory? You're not alone. (Photo: Getty)
Stuck in password purgatory? You're not alone. (Photo: Getty)

How many passwords did you type into your computer today? Were you able to remember all of them? Or was today one of those days when your failed attempts left you locked out of your account? It’s not a harmless phenomenon: It’s a new normal that has turned into a breeding ground for scammers looking to break into your accounts. 

In fact, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 80 percent of hacking-related breaches are linked to compromised passwords.

So why are we so bad at passwords? “Most people don’t want to spend their life studying passwords like memorizing spelling words,” Lorrie Cranor, Director of the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University tells Yahoo Life. “We mistype them because we are trying to get them entered quickly so we can get on with our business.”

And we’re being tasked with a lot to remember. Research shows the average person now has about a hundred passwords. That’s a 25 percent increase compared to a similar report last year.

Try LastPass Premium, part of Yahoo Plus Secure, risk-free for 30 days.

Laziness could make your passwords more vulnerable to hackers

Another password pitfall: laziness. A recent survey shows most users know that using the same password across multiple accounts is risky, but two thirds of them do it anyway. That same study reveals the number one reason people reuse passwords is simply the fear of forgetting their login information.

The number two reason comes from all of the Type A personalities out there with the innate desire to be in control of their logins. That’s right. Our fear of forgetting or giving up control is greater than our fear of getting hacked.

Forget your password again? Try LastPass Premium. (Photo: Getty)
Forget your password again? Try LastPass Premium. (Photo: Getty)

Try LastPass Premium, part of Yahoo Plus Secure, risk-free for 30 days.

But what if you only had to remember ONE password from now on? Sounds good, right? That’s exactly what password managers like LastPass Premium offer subscribers. The program creates securepasswords for every single account you have – from social media to credit card accounts. It then stores all of those unique passwords in a secure vault that can be accessed across all of your synced devices. This means you only need to remember one master password.

“Password managers are very effective. I highly recommend them,” says Cranor. “This is the best way to pick strong passwords and it can be really convenient once you learn how to use the tool.”

If you would rather create your own password for a website or an account, LastPass Premium will remember and store those passwords, too. The software even suggests criteria to make sure your passwords are as strong as possible.

Shop it: Try LastPass Premium, part of Yahoo Plus Secure, risk-free for 30 days, subscriptions.yahoo.com

“When people do create brand new passwords, they tend to take inspiration mostly from people and things they like; close family and friends, favorite athletes, favorite TV characters, pets, food they like to eat, things that make them happy,” Cranor says. “And then in a misguided effort to make them more secure, people tend to just add a symbol or a digit at the end, which really doesn’t help.”

Cranor says it’s a myth that frequently changing your password increases your security. The key she says is picking a strong password in the beginning and sticking with it. “We should not be emphasizing password change. We should be emphasizing picking unique passwords and using a different password for every account,” she explains. “Reusing the same password on many accounts is very dangerous because if there is a data breach on any one of those accounts all of your accounts may be compromised.”

Keep all of your accounts safe with one secure solution: LastPass Premium

But if the average person has one hundred password-protected accounts – that’s a lot of favorite TV characters to keep up with. Just one more reason why signing up for a password manager like LastPass Premium could make sense for you. Why spend your time retyping forgotten passwords when a software application can automatically fill them in for you?

For added security, LastPass Premium also alerts you if it detects that one of your accounts is at risk from a data breach. And if you’ve got files you need to protect, LastPass Premium gives subscribers up to 1GB of secure file storage too.

There’s no doubt: wrangling all of our passwords is a headache. Even the man credited with inventing the first computer password thinks so. In fact, Fernando Corbato told The Wall Street Journal that passwords have turned into a “kind of nightmare.” Cranor agrees.

“I think it is the fact that we have so many passwords and it is so difficult to protect them that makes them a nightmare,” admits Cranor. “Back when people started using passwords on computer systems people had only one system to login into and one password to remember. And there also weren’t a lot of attackers. Things have changed a lot since then.”

But luckily, as things have changed and evolved, so has the technology and tools to keep us safe. You don’t need a miracle to keep track of it all — you just need a dedicated, secure password manager.

Shop it: Try LastPass Premium, part of Yahoo Plus Secure, risk-free for 30 days, subscriptions.yahoo.com

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