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Are Password Managers as Safe as You Think They Are?

You have probably heard of password managers, and you probably think they are pretty safe, right? Well, there is new research out there that may might make you think twice, especially if you use password managers like KeePass, 1Password, Lastpass, or Dashlane. Frankly, I’m not worried about it, but read on.

Specifically, this study looked at the instances of passwords leaking from a host compute or focused on if these password managers were accidently leaving passwords in the computer’s memory.

What was found was that all of the password managers that were looked at did a good job at keeping these passwords secure when in a state where it was “not running.” This means that a hacker would not be able to force the program into giving away the user’s passwords. However, it was also noted that though each password manager that was tested attempted to scrub these passwords from the memory of the computer, it wasn’t always successful…meaning, your passwords could still be in the memory.

Some of these programs, like 1Password, seemed to have left the master password, but also the secret key for the program. This could possibly allow a hacker to access the info in this program. But, it’s important to note that these programs are trying to remove this information, but due to various situational issues, it’s not always possible.

Another program, LastPass, was also examined, and it, too, caused some concern amongst researchers. Basically, the program scrambles the passwords when the user is typing them in, but they are decrypted into the computer’s memory. Additionally, even when the software is locked, the passwords are still sitting in the memory just waiting for someone to extract it.

KeePass, which is yet another password manager, was also looked at here. In this case, it removes the master password from the computer’s memory, and it is not able to be recovered. However, other credentials that were stored in KeePass were able to be accessed, which is also problematic.

Should you be worried about this? Well, it depends on your personal thought process. Some people probably won’t care too much, and others won’t be affected because they don’t use password managers that have these issues. Since the researchers pointed out these issues each password manager has done their own updates and corrected any issues. The real vulnerability isn’t the security of the password managers but the security of the devices, their users and if the users are deploying the same password across multiple accounts.  Using the same password over and over is the risk here. So get a password manager so you can have a different password everywhere.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

How to Create Bulletproof Passwords

It is a hassle to keep track of all of your passwords. So, many people use the same username and password combination for all of their accounts. This, however, is a big mistake. All it takes is one hacker getting ahold of one of your accounts, and the rest of your accounts are now compromised. Thankfully, there is a pretty easy way around this…One way is a password manager and for those who don’t trust them, try below.

Creating Passwords that are Unique

The best passwords are 14 characters. Passwords that are shorter are statistically much easier to guess. If a site doesn’t allow a password that is 14 characters, you can adapt the following to fit:

Make a list of all websites you have a username and password for, and then make lists categorizing them. For instance, put all of your social media sites together, your email sites, your shopping sites, and banking sites.

Next, create an eight-character password. This will be used as the first part of every password that you create. For instance, it might look like this:

H76&2j9@

Next, look at your categories. Create a three-character password for those. So, you might do this:

  • Social media sites – SM$
  • Email sites – @eM
  • Shopping sites – $ho
  • Banking sites – BaN

Finally, the last three characters of the 14-character password will be specific to the website.

Let’s say you are creating a password for your Facebook account:

Eight-character + three-character (category) + three-character (unique to site)

So, your password for Facebook would be:

H76&2j9@SMSg5P

This is now a very strong password ad for some of you that is much easier to remember. But not me, above doesn’t work for me. More in a minute…When you have to change your password in the future, you can keep the final six characters and just change the first eight.

So, how do you remember the first part of the password? One way is to just write it down in a secure location. Don’t keep in near the computer, though. Another thing that you can do is to create a passphrase, which makes it easy to remember a password.

Let’s use this phrase

“My sister asked me for milk and butter.” If you take the first letter of all of those words, you would have this:

MSAMFMAB

This could be used as your eight-character common denominator.

You can even go further and make it more secure by swapping out some of the letters with numbers or symbols:

M3AM4MA8

Now, the common part of the password is even more difficult to guess, yet still fairly easy to remember. You can also use this method for the shorter part of the password, or even come up with your own methods for password success.

Oh and that “in a minute” comment…just use a password manager and forget the above madness. My password manager created this: *zWo5j!wUxCVWV and it means nothing and I’ll never remember it because my password manager serves as my memory now.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Use a Password Manager Or You WILL Get Hacked

Do you ever use the same password over and over again for different accounts? If so, you are not alone. However, this is quite dangerous. It’s best to use a different, unique password for each account, and to make it easier, you should use a password manager.

According to surveys, people understand that they should use unique passwords, and more than half of people get stressed out due to passwords. Furthermore, about 2/3rds of people said that they had forgotten a password or that a password issue had cause problems at work.

However, a password manager can easily solve the issues associated with passwords. A password manager is a type of software that can store login info for any and all websites that you use. Then, when you go to those websites, the password manager logs you in. These are safe, too. The information is stored on a secure database, which is controlled by a master password.

Using a Password Manager

Most people have more than one online account, and again, it’s so important to have a different password for each account. However, it’s very difficult to remember every password for every account. So, it’s not surprising that people use the same one for all of their accounts. But, if using a password manager, you can make it a lot easier.

  • When using a password manager, you can create a password that is safe and secure, and all of your passwords are protected by your master password.
  • This master password allows you to access all websites you have accounts on by using that master password.
  • When you use a password manager, and you update a password on a site, that password automatically is updated on all the computers that use your password manager.

Password Managers Can Ease Your Stress

When you first start using a password manager, it’s likely that you’ll notice you have fewer worries about your internet accounts. There are other things you will notice, too, including the following:

  • When you first visit a website, you won’t put your password in. Instead, you can open the password manager, and then there, you can put your master password.
  • The password manager you use fills in your username and password, which then allows you to log into the website with no worries.

Things to Keep in Mind Before You Use a Password Manager

Password managers available on the internet from many reputable security companies. However, before you pay for them, there are some things that you should keep in mind:

  • All of the major internet browsers have a password manager. However, they just can’t compete with the independent software that is out there. For instance, a browser-based password manager can store your info on your personal computer, but it may not be encrypted. So, a hacker can might that information anyway.
  • Internet browser-based password managers do not generate custom passwords. They also might not sync from platform to platform.
  • Software based password managers work across most browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox and Safari.

Password Managers are Easy to Use

If you are thinking about using a password manager, the first step is to create your master password.

  • The master password has to be extremely strong, but easy to remember. This is the password you will use to access all of your accounts.
  • You should go to all of your accounts and change your passwords using the password manager as an assistant. This ensures that they are as strong as possible, too.
  • The strongest passwords contain a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols. Password managers often create passwords using this formula.

Managing your accounts online is really important, especially when you are dealing with passwords. Yes, it’s easy to use the same password for every account, but this also makes it easy for hackers to access those accounts.

Don’t Reuse Your Passwords

You might think it would be easy to reuse your passwords, but this could be dangerous:

  • If your password is leaked, hackers can get access to all of your sensitive information like passwords, names, and email addresses, which means they have enough information to access other sites.
  • When a website is hacked, and all of your passwords and usernames are discovered, the scammer can then plug in those passwords and usernames into all of your accounts to see what works. These could even give them access to your bank account or websites like PayPal.

Ensuring Your Passwords are Secure and Strong

There are a number of ways to ensure your passwords are secure and strong. Here are some more ways to create the best passwords:

  • Make your passwords a minimum of eight characters long.
  • Mix up letters, numbers, and symbols in the password, making sure they don’t spell out any words.
  • Have a different password for every account that you have. This is extra important for accounts containing financial information, like bank accounts.
  • Consider changing your password often. This ensures your safety and security.

If you have a weak password, you are much more susceptible to hacks and scams. So, protect your online existence, and start utilizing these tips.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Celebrate World Password Day in 2016 With These Tips

Each year, researchers in security take the time to rate some of the worst passwords found on the Internet. While popular pop culture events have caused waves with the list of the worst passwords of 2015 – think “solo,” “starwars,” and “princess” – the worst passwords of last year were still the usual suspects, “password,” “123456,” and “qwerty.”

5DIt shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that researchers estimate as many as 90 percent of all user-generated passwords are subject to hacking. However, it might surprise you to know that even passwords that you believe to be secure will give little protection if it gets leaked.

On May 5th, the 4th World Password Day will commence, and Intel Security is, for the first time, departing from its usual stance of asking users to change their passwords to something stronger. Instead, they are asking users to add multi-factor authentication, or MFA.

MFA is an extremely powerful security feature that is available on most major websites for free, and this helps to stop any unauthorized person from accessing the account, even if this person knows your password. This feature combines the login with other identification factors such as face recognition, fingerprints or a code that you can use, which is delivered by text message.

Even the President is getting into the password game. That’s how important it is to have a strong password. President Obama recently suggested that Americans should start to protect themselves online by turning on this multi-factor authentication. Additionally, when you supplement passwords with MFA, you will greatly decrease the chance that you become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

Here are some of the best ways to protect and strengthen your password:

  • Create passwords that are strong by using symbols and a mixture of upper and lower case letters
  • Use a different password for every account you have
  • Utilize a password manager to keep track of all of your passwords
  • Turn on the multi-factor authentication feature when possible.

You can find out how well your passwords stack up by testing them online at Passwordday.org, by taking a pledge to add MFA, or even watch some videos about computer security.

You can also join in on a Twitter chat on May 5 at 3 pm Eastern/Noon Pacific. Stop.Think.Connect is hosting the chat and will be joined by @Telesign, @IntelSecurity and @StaySafeOnline. When you pledge to turn on MFA, which is free on most web services, you will be entered in a drawing to win a prize. Make the pledge today to turn on the MFA feature on May 5th, which is World Password Day.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Safety Expert to Intel Security. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

Don’t Be Lazy With Your Passwords

It can be tough being a responsible adult sometimes, and managing these responsibilities isn’t always a chore that I want to deal with. Can you relate? Managing life takes focus and effort, and managing your online life is no different. Most of us are lazy with our online accounts, especially when it comes to our passwords. It is easy to use the same password for every account, but this also makes it very easy for hackers to access your passwords.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-online-risks-sign-road-banner-image34668294You Need a Password Manager

Most of us have several online accounts that require different passwords. However, trying to remember all of these passwords is difficult, so it is no wonder that people choose to only use one password for every account. How can you avoid this? You should use a password manager.

  • Password managers will help a person not only create a password that is safe and secure, but all of the passwords you choose can be stored and managed by using a master password.
  • A master password allows you to get access to all of your accounts by using only one password.
  • When you have a password manager, you will no longer have to reset passwords, and your online accounts will be more secure than ever before.

Making Passwords Strong and Secure

There are a number of ways to make your passwords secure and strong. But don’t just take my word for it, according to Bill Carey, VP Marketing for the RoboForm Password Manager “The number one thing a user can do to protect themselves online is use a strong unique password for every website”

  • Passwords should be a minimum of eight characters long.
  • All passwords should also have letters, numbers and characters that do not spell another word.
  • Make sure to use different passwords for different accounts. This is especially the case for banking and other websites that contain sensitive information.
  • Passwords should be changed frequently to ensure safety and security.

Those who have weak passwords are more susceptible to hacks and scams. Make sure to take these tips to heart and protect your sensitive online information.

Robert Siciliano is a personal privacy, security and identity theft expert to RoboForm discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

How to Set Up a Password Manager

If you have made the decision to use a password manager for your personal cybersecurity, which I highly recommend, you will quickly find that you online world is safer, easier and more secure than ever before.

7WAccording to a recently concluded survey conducted by uSamp and sponsored by Siber Systems, creators of the RoboForm Password Manager, 63% of respondents reported forgetting a password, or had a password become compromised, in their professional life.  But it doesn’t need to be this difficult.

What Does a Password Manager Do?

Before choosing a password manager and setting up an account, you may be curious to see exactly what they do:

  • A password manager stores the passwords for your online accounts in one, easy to access place, as long as you have access to the master password.
  • The passwords are stored and encrypted by the password manager software, and the information is controlled by a master password.
  • The password manager will allow you to create a strong password for every account without the need to have to remember them.
  • Many password managers can sync across devices and platforms, as well as browsers, so you can use it with almost any online account you have.

Setting Up a Password Manager is Easier Than You Think

Setting up a password manager is typically easy, and the process begins by downloading the manager onto your device.

  • Setting up the account is no different than sitting up any other account. You will need a user ID, password, name and email address in most cases.
  • Each device you use should have the password manager installed onto it.
  • The data will automatically sync from device to device as it is updated according to information from RoboForm.com.
  • As long as the master password is kept safe, the data stored within the password manager is secure.
  • To start saving passwords to the password manager, log into websites as you normally do, and then the program will ask if you want to save the log in information. Once the information is saved, each time you go to the site and attempt to log into your account, the password manager will automatically enter your information.

As you can see, using a setting up a password manager is quite simple, and it is likely easier than you ever thought in the past. It can be done in minutes and will keep you safe for many years to come.

Robert Siciliano is a personal privacy, security and identity theft expert to RoboForm discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

Why You Should Use a Password Manager

Most experts in cybersecurity suggest that computer users utilize a password manager, and I think they have a great point. These managers ensure that you can use a unique, strong password for all online account. On the flip side, there are naysayers that state a password manager isn’t as safe as you might think, as if the master password is discovered, it could give someone access to all of your information. So, who is right?

3DAccording to a recently concluded survey conducted by uSamp and sponsored by Siber Systems, creators of the RoboForm Password Manager, only 37% of survey participants use passwords that contain both letters and numbers. And only 8% report using a password management system, which can automatically create strong passwords for every site and change them frequently.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Singing Praises for Password Managers

Why do some experts sing the praises for password managers?

  • Password managers allow you to use the most secure passwords, and allow you to use a different password for every account.
  • Since most websites have their own requirements for a password, you won’t become frustrated every time you log in, and you won’t have to remember if the ampersand is before or after the capital “S.” Besides, no one can remember every single password and username combination.
  • These password managers can work across all devices and on all browsers.

The Possible Downside of Password Managers?

Though there are certainly benefits of using a password managers, some people share their concerns with this software and state some of the following reasons:

  • There is a chance of a hack, albeit a small one, and if someone discovers a master password, they have access to everything including banking and personal information.
  • You also don’t know how secure these password managers really are, especially if it is an online password manager, such as one associated with a web browser, as the data may not be encrypted properly.

Looking At Both Sides of the Fence

When looking at expert opinion, you will typically find that most of them fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to using a password manager. These people see password managers as useful, but people should use them with caution.

  • Only use applications that have good reputations and those that do not rely on third parties
  • Use password managers that alert you immediately of a breach
  • Remember, a password manager is only as strong as the master password. This password should be strong, unique and changed often.

Good or bad, it’s probably better to be safe, rather than sorry. As with anything, be smart with your password manager, and you should have no issue with its effectiveness.

Robert Siciliano is a personal privacy, security and identity theft expert to RoboForm discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

Lost your Master Password, do This

You have a master password, from your password manager, for 28 accounts. Life has been so easy since!

5DBut then you lose this master password. First off, you can’t fix this like you would if you forgot your password for PayPal or your credit card’s site. Plus, each password manager service has a different solution.

Yet how do you lose a master password in the first place? If it’s impossible to remember,then it may not be a good master password, regardless it should be written down somewhere in a secret location.

Lifehacker.com explains the requirements for various password manager services if you actually lose your master password.

Dashlane

  • A lost master password with Dashlane is like, well…imagine your backpack falling into a dark crevasse—gone forever—even if you have applications for your smartphone for Dashlane.
  • You’ll need to create a new account or reset the existing account, but either way, you must start from scratch.

1Password

  • You’re out of luck if you lose your master password—gone with the wind; you must begin all over again, just like with Dashlane.

LastPass

  • Offers a one-time password, after which you must reset your password
  • Requires the computer you’ve already been using LastPass for
  • You’ll need the associated e-mail account. Otherwise, you must begin everything from ground zero.

KeePass

  • Lose your master password with this and you’re done. You must start from scratch.
  • Don’t even bother trying to crack it because KeePass does have built-in protection.

Roboform

  • It’s too bad here, too. Resetting your password means losing all of your data.

Of course, you don’t ever have to be in this hairy situation in the first place.

  • Write down your master password and store it in a secret location; do this several times, even, and make sure the locations are ones you won’t forget.
  • Write down the one-time password or backup code for your service (if it has these features). Write it down in more than one location, e.g., tape a stickie with it on the underside of your desk may not be the most secure, but an option.
  • See if the service allows you to export your password, then do so. Then save it on your computer and also print it out for a hardcopy duplicate. For better security don’t store it in your computer but instead in a USB drive (in addition to hardcopy).
  • See if the service provides a feature for emergency contacts, then set this feature up.
  • Back up all of your data as a general rule.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.