According to recent research, the average number of accounts registered to one UK email address is 118. We each forget around 37 passwords a year, according to the number of forgot password emails the researchers at online security solutions company Dashlane found when rummaging around in the inboxes of over 20,000 participants. More worrying, the typical UK internet user reuses their favourite password around 6 times, which is a serious security problem.
The main problem is that convenience is king when registering for new online accounts. If you're accessing something on the move or want to get on with it quickly, choosing the easy option and reusing a favourite password is natural. We know this isn'tt the safest way to do it, but it's difficult to keep track of all those different passwords. It can be a real headache trying to log in to sites and services and having to reset your password all the time, so it may be time to find a better solution. Here are just 3 options to try they could make your life a lot easier and your online accounts much more secure:
- Use a password manager. This is by far the easiest solution to manage all of those passwords. Password managers such as 1Password, KeePass, and indeed Dashlane all lock your passwords away in an encrypted, secure place whilst also having extra features such as logging into sites for you, giving you options to sync or keep passwords local only, and reminding you when you are using the same password in too many places. All you'll need to remember is your master password to access the manager, and it's crucial to make this as impenetrable as possible.
- Consider a hard copy approach. Some may disagree, but several internet security experts have recommended writing down your passwords on paper. We've all been told not to do this, but it's worth considering that a piece of paper is effectively unhackable unless someone breaks into your home and finds it (of course, a possibility). This approach could work if you keep the paper somewhere secure and not lose it yourself.
- Use a password recovery device. Suppose all else fails, and you can't reset your password. In that case, you can use a portable USB password recovery device to regain access to essential files on your computer or login into an important account.
Tips for stronger passwords
Another way to boost the security of your online accounts is to develop a stronger password for each in the first place. Top tips include:
- Being creative - merging two different song lyrics, using your friend's favourite weird saying, or even making up new words and sentences
- Take a phrase and abbreviate it - for example, I went to Disney World Florida in 2005 can be abbreviated to IwtDWFi05, which is much more secure than your surname and birth year.
- Changing your password regularly - set a schedule and stick to it.