It’s imperative that you have good passwords

The word 'password' is pictured on a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin

Before the Stories: The threat from criminals online continues to grow. It’s not just “hackers” but actual criminal activity, backed by organized crime, and perhaps even some governments. They want your passwords to bank accounts, and they use some pretty tricky and often sophisticated means to get them, either from you, or from sites they break into.

Thus it’s imperative that you have good passwords. What makes a password good? Long and complex, and unique. Long and complex makes it harder to crack; unique means that if a password is compromised, it can’t be used to get into other accounts too. (How many of you have the same login and password at more than one financial site?!) The problem is, such passwords are very hard to remember, and type. But software comes to the rescue: there is software that “remembers” all of your passwords so you don’t have to, and enters them when necessary — after checking to ensure that you’re really at your bank’s site, not one that just looks like your bank’s site with a quick glance. Then, you only have to remember one password: the one to unlock the software that holds your passwords for you. The good news is, such programs are pretty easy to use: 80-year-olds who can use banking sites can certainly use this software easily; no mad tech skillz required.

But are they safe? Yes: your passwords are encrypted using the password you choose. Even if you use a service that holds copies, they’re well secured. If you want more assurance than that, consider that Wired magazine notes that 73 percent of computer security professionals use password vault software, while only 24 percent of “non-experts” do. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s that high. I use LastPass, which is free for most uses (no excuses!) If you want to have secure access to your passwords on your smartphone too, they ask for a mere $12/year for that. But again, on your computer, it’s completely free. A small price to pay for a wall around your bank accounts to protect you from organized crime.

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Henry Sapiecha

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