Possibly the most important aspect of security (which is often overlooked) is your passwords. Whilst they are an essential element of online life, it’s one of those mentally draining things which sometimes make us loathe technology. So, pop quiz – what’s the best way to manage your passwords?
A. Make all your passwords the same
B. Make them easy to remember (dog name, birthday, favourite colour, etc)
C. Write them in a book or text file
D. Save them into your web browser’s password manager
I’ll give you a minute to think about it and see you on the next step!
Alright! If you answered A, B, C or D, you are incorrect. I know, sorry about that. That was a trick question. All of the above are a terrible idea. Here’s why:
E. Make all your passwords the same – If one website becomes compromised, the hackers can then use the same credentials on all your other accounts. Not good, especially if they get into your email account.
F. Make them easy to remember (dog’s name, son’s name, birthday, favourite colour, etc). – Common names and words will be cracked almost instantly by specialised computer software. Even others may guess it. Not good.
G. Write them in a book or text file. – If the book gets in the wrong hands and someone even goes as far as snaps a photo, you’re in trouble. Not good.
H. Save them into your web browser’s password manager. – Anyone with access to your computer can easily view these in plain text in about 15 seconds or so. Plus, if your computer is ever compromised by a virus, it’s quite possible that it could extract this information and send it off to anyone in the world. Not good.
“But remembering all my passwords is too hard!” you might say. To be fair, you’re right. We can only remember around 20% of our 120 different passwords we have. But we have a little trick under our sleeve. It’s called Lastpass, and it’s awesome. Lastpass is a free web-based password manager that uses military grade encryption designed to make managing and securing your passwords easy and painless. Essentially how it works is that it integrates with your web browser and automatically fills in your passwords into websites after you enter your Lastpass “master password”. Essentially, one password to rule them all. As you visit new websites it will collect your login information which then subsequently enters it for you automatically next time you visit it. You can install Lastpass from the “Getting Started” bookmark folder in Chrome, or from the Chrome Web Store. You can learn more about lastpass at on Youtube or at www.lastpass.com.
Creating effective passwords
Whilst Lastpass is an excellent tool for managing and generating random passwords, it will be unavoidable that there will be a handful of passwords that you must remember, including your Lastpass master password. As quick guide, we recommend stringing seemingly silly words together to create what’s is called a compound password. As long as the words aren’t easily guessable (eg. toyotahilux) then it should serve as a fairly secure password which is strangely easy to remember. Here are some quick examples (don’t use these):
The longer and the more words you combine, the more secure. Adding numbers is a good idea, and capitals letters and special characters are great but not strictly necessary. For a more detailed guide on creating passwords, check out this lifehacker article here which provides a more detailed guide on mastering passwords.
Having a lost or stolen computer is a major inconvenience at best. In order to get back at pesky thieves, a program called Prey was developed to deal with this particular issue. Prey is hidden service which runs in the background on a computer and can be used to remotely track or wipe it in the instance where it leaves your possession. It can even take photos of the thief and send it back to the owner using the webcam.
Prey has been pre-installed on your computer – however it requires activation to function, before your computer is lost.. To activate Prey, run the “Configure Anti-Theft” shortcut from your desktop or search for “Prey” in your list of programs. Run through the setup process and you should then be able to remotely track your PC by logging into www.preyproject.com from another computer or device.