Tips to Manage Your Passwords
August 30, 2021
Are you frustrated every time you see a login screen? Do you keep getting locked out and you don't understand why?
We've experienced every possible issue related to passwords and have helped our clients deal with their passwords problems countless times. By doing so, we've figured out a few things which we believe you'll find helpful:
Passwords Require Precision
The password "LetMeIn" is different than "Letmein" because capitalization DOES matter. "LetMeIn" is also different from " LetMeIn " because there should never be a space before or after your password. Some login screens will ignore this, but others will not. Also, EVERY character must be typed in exactly, this can be challenging when certain characters look alike (1 and l, 0 and O, ' and `, etc). Finding special characters on your keyboard (whether real or virtual) can also be tricky.
Usernames Require Precision Too
Just about every login screen requires 2 pieces of information: your username (who are you?) and your password (are you allowed in?). The majority of usernames are the email address you signed up with, but this is not always the case. They can sometimes be a handle like "Knight88". Sadly, most login screens won't tell you what you got wrong – your username, password or both (our NMD System Admin login does however, to make your life easier). If your login fails, check both your password AND your username to be sure they've both been entered precisely.
Don't Keep Guessing
Login screens are natural targets for hackers who try brute force attacks on them, meaning they will keep guessing username / password combos. Because of this, most login screens limit login attempts. This means that after 1-2 failed login attempts, you should stop guessing and figure out what your credentials are, otherwise you will get locked and then have another issue to resolve. Options when you don't know your password include resetting it (if available) or if you are one of our clients using the NMD System, reaching out to us so we can email you an invite with your credentials or we can reset your password to whatever you like. Bottom line is, you will only make things worse if you keep guessing.
Passwords Should Be Unique
You are giving hackers an easy target when you use the same password – or even variations of the same password – on multiple sites. Why? Data breeches keep occuring with regularity which means hackers often have access to one set of credentials for you (meaning your username and password for a single website). The first thing they will try is to use those same credentials on other popular sites like Amazon, iCloud, Best Buy, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This is one way people get hacked without even knowing. The solution is simple: NEVER use the same password more than once! Every password should be unique for each login and especially for sensitive logins like banking sites, which should be changed once a year or more.
Passwords Are Frustrating
It helps to accept the fact that passwords are annoying. Especially when they need to match a very specific formula (for example, 12 characters long with at least 1 number, 1 letter and 1 special character). I've run into sites that make it feel like jumping through hoops of fire just to create an account. Thankfully, our NMD System only requires a certain password length which can be adjusted by Admins. Eventually, passwords will largely be replaced with biometric technology like TouchID and FaceID, which confirm your identity with your fingerprint or your face, respectively. Even then, however, we will likely be stuck with passwords as a backup.
Which brings us to our concluding recommendation ...
Use a Password Manager
Your tech life is so much easier with a password manager! This handy app generates, stores and auto fills your password for every site you visit. You only need to authorize it occasionally (usually once per day) and it does the password (and username) filling in for you. They also sync across all your devices, so you have one secure central repository for all your passwords. This is especially useful to someone like me who literally has over 1,000 passwords to deal with. This also allows you to use long and complex passwords for every site you visit without having to manage them manually. The password manager we use and recommend to our clients and friends is: 1Password