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Store your passwords securely

In 2017, you might have accounts with well over 50 different web sites. This means having to remember an insane amount of passwords. Many websites even have different password complexity requirements. Some require a capital letter, a number, a symbol, don’t allow your name in them, don’t allow you to use an old password, or combine the preceding rules in any number of ways. This can really drive you bonkers when all you’re trying to do is login to make a quick purchase.

There are many solutions out there for this problem. Let’s take a look at a very basic method and some other more complicated methods.

1) OneNote / Google Keep (free)

If you have a Microsoft account (Account@Microsoft.com, @Hotmail.com, @Outlook.com, @Live.com) then you have access to a OneNote notebook. You can access this notebook from the URL: OneNote.com

OneNote is my favorite note taking software, and I have tried them all!

1.  You start off with a notebook. You can name this whatever you want. Each notebook has sections that you can also name.
2.  Running with this idea, you can have a notebook that is used to store your passwords. Within that, you can have a section for each web site where you can then write down your credentials. If you forget a password, simply login to your OneNote account and retrieve it.
3.  For security purposes, you should DEFINITELY enable 2-Factor Authentication for your Microsoft Account. This feature will allow only you to login to your account if you can verify your login via telephone call, SMS, or e-mail to a different account.
4.  To do this, access the security settings page: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=529561  . Sign in with your Microsoft Account. Scroll-down to “Two-step verification”, choose “Set up two-step verification” to turn it on. Follow the instructions.

If you have a Google account, then you have access to Google Keep. It is much the same as Microsoft’s offering. I just happen to not like the interface as much. Otherwise, it functions in a similar way.  You can (and SHOULD) also enable two factor authentication with your gmail.com account.

2) LastPass (free – $12/year)

LastPass is a password manager that stores your credentials when you login to a website (upon acceptance). You begin by installing a web browser extension. Then, you must create a LastPass account, and finally, a master password. When creating passwords for a new account or changing a password, LastPass will offer to generate a strong password. This prevents a user from using a weak password that they may end up using for many different web sites. To login to a website in the future, you must enter your LastPass master password.

The nice thing about LastPass is its tidy interface for managing your stored credentials. You can view them upon logging into LastPass. They are shown in a simplistic grid with logos for quick identification. Passwords can be sorted in a few different ways as well. LastPass also offers storage of notes, like OneNote and Google Keep.

The free version is mostly likely good enough for most users. Upgrading to premium offers the user: family password sharing (for accounts that may be used by an entire family), 1 GB encrypted file storage, enhanced customer support, 2-Factor Authentication, desktop fingerprint authentication, and an advertising-free experience.

3) Microsoft Word Password-Protected Document

This is a pretty old-school method of password storing. I have seen many-a-client open up an unprotected document on their desktop named “Passwords.docx” (or something similar) to retrieve their credentials. This is not a very great idea! BUT, there is a way to make this idea into something a bit more secure.

Open up Microsoft Word and create a new document. Please DO NOT include “Passwords” in the file name. Give it an obscure name that would not be an immediate target. Begin by writing down your credentials. I suggest this format:

Gmail.com
u: JohnDoe@gmail.com
p: Qdcb77..>5

Click File > Info > Protect Document > Encrypt with Password. Use a very strong password here. I recommend the following rules:

– Do NOT include your name
– Use capital and lowercase letter
– Include a number and a symbol (ex: .,/&#*@)()
– Length: At least 10 characters

Save your document in a location that you will remember!

This is not the best way to store your passwords, remember that! If your computer becomes unusable for any reason, you will no longer have your passwords. If a hacker discovers a way to decrypt Microsoft Word password-protected files, you will lose your passwords. If you are on the go, not in front of your computer, you will not have access to your passwords.

by: Mekkel Richards

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