Last November, leading smartphone applications provider SplashData rolled out a list dubbed as the "25 Worst Passwords of the Year" for 2011 - all compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords that hackers have posted online. This was to provide awareness among online users and to encourage them to adopt stronger passwords. You might want to check out if your password is on the list below:
Obvious password is obvious. One is at risk of being a fraud and identity theft victim when using a weak password. With the rapid progression of technology, hackers have adapted themselves to the shifting online environment. With the use of nifty hacking tools, accounts with easy-to-guess, crude passwords would easily fall prey.
What Makes A Strong Password
SplashData provided some tips on coming up with strong passwords. They've suggested that passwords should comprise of at least eight mixed types of characters. It's not enough to just create a long password. Try throwing in some underscores, dashes, spaces, question marks and exclamation points if possible.
Another suggestion that's IMHO really worth noting would be to vary the username and password combinations that you use across multiple sites. There's a high chance of a knock-on effect if ever one of the accounts gets hacked.
So you've already created strong passwords for all your online accounts. You've diversified them from site to site. The problem now is that you'll have to remember each username-password combination. That's easy to do with five to ten accounts, but how about more than twenty of those?
I once kept this notepad text file that contains all my account info on various websites. Ideally, doing so was never a good idea. What if someone gains access to my PC and gets hold of that file? Or what if I've completely deleted it by accident?
So a day came when I finally decided to google for a solution to that age-old problem. I tested out one password manager software after another. Honestly then, I wasn't a big fan of having some application, most specifically online password storage types, to handle all the confidential information that I'm entrusting them. Who knows? They might be secretly using those data. I may sound like a paranoid, but that's just me.
After a number of install-use-uninstall instances, I finally got hold of the best (in my opinion) free password manager. It's 1Password.
1Password To Rule Them All
1Password by AgileBits is an excellent password manager app that runs locally on your machine though you can have the option to use the sync service provided by Dropbox so you can access the synced data across multiple devices (Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, etc.). You can download 1Password for Windows here. Easy and straightforward installation instructions are on that page as well.
The password manager software is also packed with a lot of other features but I'll go deep with this writeup on its primary function - password management.
With 1Password, you will have to create a Master Password (Maaaasssshter...Cool eh?) though keep in mind that you should NEVER forget what that password is as AgileBits clearly states on this help page that "if your password is forgotten, there is nothing we can do to help you recover it." Since the application runs locally, there's an insignificant chance of getting hacked through the internet so a password that's hard-to-guess but easy-to-remember would suffice as a Master Password. You can go to this help page on how to get started.
You can always get more information about this free password management software from the Help Menu as shown below.
1Password Browser Extension for Google Chrome
You probably have already set up your browser extension. If not, and you're a Chrome fan like me, go to this page for simple directions on how to install the 1Password Chrome password manager extension. 1Password also supports the lastest versions of other popular browsers like Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.
After installing the extension, you'll notice a key-like icon beside the browser's address bar (this is in Chrome; other browsers may have a difference interface). To get started, click on it, key in your Master Password, hit enter (be amazed by the unlock animation), and you will initially be presented with an empty list. To start populating that (this is how I personally went about it), start browsing and logging in to sites you have accounts with, and 1Password will automatically detect every new unsaved log-ins and will ask you to save them or not. Of course, you'll want everything saved.
The next time you'll want to visit a site where you have an account on, you can just hit up the 1Password extension on your browser, type in the name you've given to a particular site log-in, and hit enter. The browser will automatically open a new tab or window, load up the site, pastes in your username and password, and proceeds with the log-in process - yes, all that in full automation.
The time you close your browser, 1Password logs you off as well (from all the sites, and from the extension itself) thus preventing others from unauthorized access. You can also enable the auto-lock option via Preferences on the installed 1Password application in your machine.
1Password is free (you can use the demo mode, though you can always buy the full version to get your hands on other superb features). 1Password is secure. 1Password is a must-have. 1Password is the best password manager software. I'm actually not getting paid by any entity to promote this brilliant application. It's just that I've tried a lot of password managers and this one turned out to be the king of the hill.