Most of us have online accounts on various websites, apps, or services, and one thing that is common in all is that they all have a password. It becomes very difficult to remember the passwords of all these accounts and the most convenient thing is to save the password in a browser like Chrome, or a device like desktop, laptop or smartphone.
There is no denying that it is convenient to do so. Many times, a browser automatically fills the password for you, which not only saves your time but also frees you from trouble.
But have you asked yourself whether it is safe to store passwords on your device? If not, you should definitely read this article to see how you are risking your personal information by saving passwords.
Analyzing the problem
Here are some popular places where you might be storing your passwords, and how it might risk your privacy:
1. Personal computer
- In a document, using Excel, Word, Notepad, or Notes
- In a web browser
- In emails or chats where password information is shared or received
- In an email draft – created mainly to store password information
In this case, whoever gains access to your personal computer can steal the stored password. Passwords can be accessed either by the person having physical access to your computer or can be obtained by a hacker via the internet or by installing a virus into your PC, granting him access.
- In electronic ‘Notes’
- On social media platforms where password information is sent or received in chats
- In documents created using Word or Excel to store password related information
- In email – where passwords are sent or received, or drafts created mainly to store them
Here too, password information is at great risk because the medium you use to store the password is not encrypted, which can result in unauthorized access by hackers or thieves.
3. Web Browser
- In Chrome
- In Firefox
- In Safari
If you allow a web browser to save and manage username and password details, there are a lot of security issues associated with it. How? It is easy to view the passwords saved in web browsers. For example, on Linux, chrome allows users to view username and login details even without requiring a user’s password. With Firefox, the passwords are accessible without authentication, unless you set a master password. Safari uses black dots or asterisks to hide the user’s password. But there are problems. These password managers aren’t that powerful as they prevent casual access only and may reveal your passwords and other content should a hacker gain access to your device.
5 secure ways to store passwords
Say ‘no’ to plain-text passwords: If you’re doing this, stop storing your passwords in plain text in your database. Why? If you do this, and someone steals your device, they will get all your plain text passwords and may use them incorrectly.
Here are a number of methods that you can use to safely store your passwords:
1. Use encryption: If you encrypt folders or files in your device, your data will become more secure from unauthorized access. Use a strong password or encryption application to encrypt the files and folders on your device that contain sensitive information, including password details. No one, can read your encrypted files.
2. Add salt to your password: Password salting is a great way for securing passwords stored in your database from being breached by hackers. In general, password salting means adding a string of random characters to a password, and then hashing it. Example: Hash (Password + Salt). So, you basically add a series of random characters to the original password which will add a different hash function every time someone tries to access your password.
3. Obfuscate your password: You can obscure the password or username by using a secret code or abbreviation. For example, if your password is “Alex***”, then you can abbreviate Alex to “A” and write “A***”, similarly you can abbreviate other passwords as well. This is a great method as it will not provide accurate password information to your hacker or thief if they are successful in getting access to your device. Remember, this does not include writing the full form of every abbreviation.
4. Use a passphrase: Passphrase is a less complex and secure way to secure your login information. They are basically a string of words, consisting of numbers, symbols, letters, spaces, etc. that make up a phrase or a sentence. For example, your passphrase can be ‘To be or not to be’, or you can also write it as ‘2 b or not 2 b’ and so on. Such passwords are reasonably unique and are difficult to guess. Also, they are easier to remember so you won’t have to write them down.
5. Use password managers: Passwords are a part of our daily life and remembering all those complex, unique passwords are a big trouble. That is where password managers come in!
Password managers are actually software applications that help you create long, complex passwords. They help you store passwords in a secure vault behind a single master password that only you know, and then provide a convenient access to all your passwords on any device, whenever you need it. The only thing you should remember is: Your Master Password.
Another great thing about password managers is that they allow you to store other types of data as well, for example, credit card numbers, or important notes. There are different kinds of password managers available in the market, choose the one that best fits your need.
What’s the best way to protect your passwords?
First, see how you store your passwords, then take appropriate steps to protect password information on your devices, as mentioned in the points above. Strengthen your device security. It may be less convenient but very important in the insecure cyberworld today.
Second, use a good Cyberprotection tool . It is a comprehensive cyberprotection software that encrypts the files and folders on your device. It is more than just backup or antivirus software that you can easily use to protect your devices further from malware attacks.
How do you store your passwords? Share your story in the comments section.
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Originally Published in ZNetLive