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Password Problems Revisited

To take our discussion of vanishing passwords one step farther, some recent service calls for clients who’ve been hacked – some multiple times – have provided still more reasons to move on to newer technologies.

We are getting numerous calls from clients to help them set up Dashlane, including one client who has been hacked seven times. We tried to get them to use Dashlane or Password Keeper. Now, they’re ready to do it the right way. They’re ready to move beyond the annoyance of having to remember or look up passwords for security and type them into a website. For now, Dashlane or another password manager can resolve the issue for most people who are fearful of trading passwords for newer password-less technologies.

As we’ve noted, people set up passwords that are easy to remember or type. There’s generally enough repeatability that a code cracker can solve the puzzle you’ve tried to create. That happened with our client, whose bank account was hacked. As we were setting up Dashlane and downloading emails, we noticed the client had been getting alerts that the password had been changed. They had not made those changes. It took a phone call to resolve that issue, and it took Dashlane to ward off the hackers.

We should note here that there are a couple of important side lessons to learn from this experience. The first is on you: Call the company – and don’t necessarily use the phone number in the email; get one from their website. The second is on the companies: Make it easier to get a human on the phone when somebody has a security issue. We went through five layers of voice prompts before talking to a person.

Once the “alert” issue was resolved, we were able to fully install Dashlane. The process does take time. Installing any password manager requires you to pay attention to details and maybe some repetition. For financially sensitive accounts, you may want to generate another round of new random-pattern passwords as an extra layer of security. A password management program should allow you to print a copy of your database with all of your passwords – just in case there’s a mistake or if you decide to stop using the program. It should also work across all of your devices: computers, phones, tablets, etc. If you are one of the growing number of people who use an infotainment system in your car like a computer, you might want to change sensitive passwords frequently – as often as once a week.

Again, you only need to remember your master password for the password manager, and that can be a tremendous time saver, especially if you need to access a website from a mobile device.

But again, we believe you should use password-less technologies. They’re more secure, and they are easier to use than many perceive. For example, many Windows 10 computers have Windows Hello, and you can use that to add a fingerprint reader. The reader itself is about the size of a wireless mouse device and plugs into a USB port. Similarly, many mobile devices can use your fingerprint to verify you are the owner and user. If your computer or device has this capability, we strongly urge you to use it.

Many computers and devices also have built-in cameras that can be used for biometrics, and some advanced security measures use locations and usage patterns in place of passwords. As a backup, all of these measures have provisions for a PIN or a password if the biometric program can’t be used or if you don’t want to use it.

We can help you set up a password manager or – better still – go password-less. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to get answers to your questions or to set up an appointment to manage your online security.