Fix Your Terrible, Insecure Passwords in One Minute

Right now you’re scrambling to change all your passwords. If you’re not, you should be. In the wake of a couple of massive security breaches—one at LinkedIn that nabbed 6.5 million passwords and another at eHarmony that compromised 1.5 million accounts—security experts are advising that people change their passwords at the affected sites and at every other site where you used a similar password. By now you’ve probably heard the time-worn guidelines for creating strong passwords: Don’t use your name or other common words. Use different passwords for different sites. Change them often. Choose security questions that don’t involve information that everyone knows about you, or stuff that crooks can easily find on Facebook.

For a lot of people, myself included, these rules are too much trouble. We’ve all got too many online accounts, so keeping track of different, ever-changing strong passwords for each site seems like a gargantuan task. The easiest way to fix this problem is to use password-managing software. I like LastPass, which generates and remembers passwords for all your sites across all your computers. (It’s free, but if you pay $1 a month for the premium version, you’ll get support for your mobile devices, too.) But for a lot of people—probably including you—even a password manager is too much trouble. Ignoring the guidelines, you pick a memorable password for all your sites, then just cross your fingers and hope for the best.

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