Why You Should Be Using a Password Manager

Why You Should Be Using a Password Manager

Every few weeks, we hear the news that another major corporation and their website has been hacked, just last week we heard about Equifax being hacked and data on millions of users being compromised. We of course only hear about the major newsworthy hacks which have been discovered or disclosed, but the scary truth is that around 30,000 websites are hacked every single day.

Often these hacks mean your personal information has also been compromised, most likely without your knowledge as often website owners either do not know they have been hacked, or choose to keep it quiet.  In this post, I cover the important reasons for why you should use a password manager to protect your online identity, and how to get started with LastPass, a free password manager.

Passwords & Online Security Best Practices

Most websites rely on a simple login process for a user to gain access their account–a username and password.

As an online security best practice, you need to have long, complex and unique password for every web account you use.

Strong passwords need to be:

  • Long – The more characters in a password, the longer it would take a hacker to guess your password.
  • Complex – By adding additional characters to your password you add complexity or password entropy. Password entropy is a measurement of how unpredictable a password is, based on the character set used (a combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers and symbols) as well as password length. Basically, your password needs to be something you could never pronounce.
  • Unique – You need a different password for every web account you use. Yep, that’s right. Every login on every website needs to be unique and never reused.

Unfortunately, in the real world, meeting all three criteria for strong passwords is basically impossible without the use of a password manager.

Why Use a Password Manager? The Nightmare Scenario

So why is having a long, complex, unique password important?

If you use the same email address and passwords for multiple websites that you log into (as a lot of people do), what happens when one of those websites gets hacked?

The hackers now have your username and password on a list that will be used to try to log into thousands of other websites around the internet. If you use the same email address and password for all your websites, now the hacker will be able to log into all your accounts at once and get access to all your personal data and details. If those same login details are used for your email account as well, they can now access

If those same login details are used for your email account as well, they can now access pretty much anything. Any site they cannot get into, they can simply issue a password reset, which will come to your email, which they now have access to. Identity theft at this point is a high possibility.

Once your password has been compromised, you now have the challenge of updating your information individually on every single website that has the same login information. Do you even remember them all? If you use the same email and password again on each one, you’re probably going to have to repeat this process again in the future.

Don’t Use Common Passwords

Here’s Keeper Security’s list of the most common passwords of 2016. Do you recognize any of them?
These are all lazy password, achieved by just pressing keys which are next to each other on the keyboard, and are easily hackable in seconds by automated hacking tools.

1. 123456 10. 987654321 19. 555555
2. 123456789 11. qwertyuiop 20. 3rjs1la7qe
3. qwerty 12. mynoob 21. google
4. 12345678 13. 123321 22. 1q2w3e4r5t
5. 111111 14. 666666 23. 123qwe
6. 1234567890 15. 18atcskd2w 24. zxcvbnm
7. 1234567 16. 7777777 25. 1q2w3e
8. password 17. 1q2w3e4r
9. 123123 18. 654321

Password Managers vs. Browser Password Storage

Note: While most major web browsers today will offer to remember your passwords and fill them in automatically for you, this is for convenience and not security. 

A Password Manager such as LastPass not only remembers your login information but also helps you generate long, complex passwords and stores them and other useful information  securely.

You may have noticed that your browser prompts you to save login details, but be warned that the password storage built into your browser is a solution of convenience, but is not secure. Anyone using your computer can access those saved details and login to websites, plus you will not have access to those details from other devices. Also bear in mind that if you lose your device or it is stolen, or your hard drive dies, or any disaster, you have lost all those details.

LastPass vs. Other Password Managers

There are numerous excellent options for Password Managers available:

It is also worth mentioning that if you use BitDefender Anti-Virus then this includes a simple password manager called BitDefender Wallet.

Ultimately, using any one of these password managers is a good choice, but I personally recommend LastPass, especially for business users, because it offers the most value in free vs. paid features and is the most configurable with additional security options and options.

So as well as passwords, it is great for storing bank details, licences, card details etc and is very easy to share passwords with other people. It is also very secure, you can set your LastPass to auto lock after xx minutes so that anyone else using your computer cannot access your passwords without your master password. You also have the option of 2-factor authentication.

However, it can be over complicated for the same reason if you are not very competent with computers, in which case one of the simpler solutions might be better for you for personal use.

Here is a review of the top password managers for 2017

Watch LastPass Tutorial for Beginners

LastPass Free vs. Premium

LastPass Free has everything you need to securely store and fills passwords on a single kind of device (for example, a Mac computer, a PC Computer, an iPhone, an Android Phone).

But if you want to access LastPass on different kinds of devices, you will need to upgrade to LastPass Premium for $24/yr. LastPass also offers Business and Enterprise versions that focus on sharing data among multiple users and creating rules and policies for your staff/users.

If you need help to get LastPass configured or require some training, then please contact me.

Margate’s Dreamland back from the dead, or is that living dead ?

Margate’s Dreamland back from the dead, or is that living dead ?

Anyone from my generation or older will have heard of Dreamland. At the height of its popularity in the 1960s, when it attracted more than two million thrill-seekers a year, Dreamland boasted a wall of death run by legendary stunt motorcyclist Yvonne Stagg, which was covered in Anderson’s unsettling 1953 documentary film, O Dreamland, with its terrifying animatronic electric chair and Haunted Snail ride.

In its hay day, Dreamland was at the cutting edge of fairground excitement. But by todays fairground standards the rides feel  rather lackluster. Rather than competing with the high-tech thrills of Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, it has opted to try and maintain that retro feel with its gentle, sweetly retro vision of seaside fun created by designer Wayne Hemingway. Old rides and paraphernalia have been refurbished and recycled. 17 rides are currently open, which may be enough for a day out forthose with not too high expectations, ranging from the vintage galloper merry-go-round, its handsome, brightly painted steeds performing a stately dance, to the hectic, waltzer-meets-roller coaster swoops of the Crazy Mouse.

Dreamland_Park_Helterskelter

I recently took my 2 boys Bret (8) and Austin (11), which cost roughly about £40 for the 3 of us. Had this resulted in a fun day out then I would have said that is a very reasonable price indeed. My thought process was, even though I found the rides old, dull and boring and cannot go on anything that makes me dizzy anyway, my kids would probably be entertained well enough for the day, but sadly this was not to be the case. Despite the fact that the park was fairly quiet and there were barely any queues, my kids got bored and we were done within 2 hours. Sadly the rides are just too old and dull to keep anyone entertained for long, even kids. I think their decision to go for retro style rides was a mistake, and won’t keep people coming back for subsequent visits, overall it really isn’t any more fun than those travelling fun fairs, aside from those 2 rides which were closed anyway.

The 2 rides they really wanted to go on, crazy mouse and the scenic railway were still offline which was the first disappointment, this was then followed by further angst as each ride they tried to go on Bret was told he was not tall enough. This resulted in one very disappointed 8 year old and an 11 year who was forced to go on the rides by himself without his brother, which diminished his enjoyment and stopped him wanting to go on the rides more than once. Had they been able to go on all the rides together then they would likely have gone on them again and again. The remaining rides that they could both go on were generally a bit too retro and dull.

Had we been going to a big theme park, them I would have expected to encounter height restrictions on the big scary rides, but considering the retro 60’s nature of Dreamland I just didn’t expect this to be an issue, and there was no information about these restrictions until you get into the fair itself, and the ticket staff did not bother to mention this either.

The day after I did actually contact Dreamland via their website with feedback and suggested they put these restrictions in plain view outside where you buy the tickets, to avoid such disappointments for other families. Their response was to point out that this information is on their website, which is true, but their emails felt like a typical uncaring canned response  and not really adequate in my books, and doesn’t help those who did not think to check the website, certainly grandparents bringing their grandchildren out for the day would likely not even know how to do that.

I had also sent them some feedback RE octopus garden,which is a kids play area and the total lack of security, and the replies I received  from customer services were very belligerent and nonchalant and they are in total denial that there is any problem with their security at all. When I said I would video the security problems for them next time I was there and send it over for them to see, they responded by threatening me, so clearly the safety of your kids is  of little interest to them.