How many times have you gotten a reminder to update your password before it expires? Or to make sure your password contains a capital letter, number and symbol? While inconvenient at times, these are some of the crucial steps that come with keeping your personal information safe.
Choosing a weak or overused password can make it fairly easy for a criminal to steal your information. Instead, it’s important that you have a strong and unique password for every account. To make this possible, there are tools you can use to keep your information safe and secure - saving you the headache of remembering every password yourself.
Step #1: Consolidate Your Passwords
While we used to be able to memorize all of our passwords, nowadays passwords have gotten a lot longer and harder to keep in our heads... having so many different websites to sign into also makes it near impossible to have every password memorized.
The solution? A password consolidator. The leading software, and the one that we use, is LastPass.
LastPass is a free, secure password storage center for all of your accounts. You sign in once, and all of your other passwords are accessed through LastPass, making it easier to have difficult passwords that you might otherwise not remember. LastPass, like Google, can create secure passwords that are harder to crack than the ones you might otherwise come up with. The vault they use is protected by one master password. You can also enable multi-factor authentication.
The free version also offers secure storage for text notes, syncing of credentials across browsers, and access to your secure vault from any internet-connected device via LastPass.com. It will refuse to autocomplete forms on known phishing websites, and you can export your data at any time if you decide to switch to a different password manager.
There are other password consolidators out there, but we think it's important to have all your passwords accessible and safe, somewhere that's not a sticky note on your computer monitor.
Step #2: Do a Checkup on Your Current Passwords
If you use Google to store your passwords, go to the password checkup page. Running a checkup here will show you:
- What passwords you have duplicated on multiple sites (I had WAY too many as my "default" password)
- If any sites are known to have compromised passwords - you should change those passwords ASAP
- Check on the strength of your passwords themselves: since the internet began, computers have gotten faster, and can more easily break short and simple passwords.
If you don't have Google passwords, then this step will likely take you a bit longer. A good resource that can help you see if any of your data has been compromised can be found at the humorously named site Have I Been Pwned. Make sure none of your passwords are duplicated - this makes it much, much harder for someone to get access to your accounts if one of them is hacked.
Step #3: Do Some Digital Estate Planning
When all of your passwords are secure, there is still one large question that not a lot of people think of - what happens to your digital assets after you die?
Make sure that you have someone as a trusted person to keep your information secure (this may be the same person you name as executor in your will).Tell them that you are giving them post-humous access to your digital life, and explain to them exactly how they can access your accounts after you pass.
Google makes this easy with their Inactive Account Manager - you can set a time limit where, if you are not active, they will automatically give access to your named trusted person on file. Just make sure you don't take a six month vacation and forget to check your email!
Finally, it helps to store a non-digital list of your accounts in a safe place - where you keep all of your other important estate documents. Every year, do a quick update to make sure that the list of accounts is complete. This way, your loved ones will know exactly where to go to handle your accounts.
At Natural Bridges, we also have an encrypted digital vault for all of our clients so that they can store any important things with us securely. Let us know if you have any questions about how to make sure your accounts are safe.
Looking for a financial advisor who takes cybersecurity seriously? Send us a secure message, and we'll get back to you: