Choosing a strong password is the first step toward keeping your information out of the wrong hands – but that’s not enough today, in the age of data leaks and hacker attacks. Not to mention the almost criminal negligence of some of the most-used service providers online. Just think of Facebook’s latest scandal that revealed the storage of hundreds of millions of passwords on an unsecured server, shortly after a similar problem was revealed about the Facebook-owned social network Instagram. Considering this issue involved Facebook passwords only, some might dismiss this issue as a minor incident (then again, there are hundreds of millions of passwords involved). But many people tend to use the same password for a variety of online services, ranging from social networks like Facebook to live casinos where they play their daily games. This makes the issue very serious, indeed.

Anyone can invent a strong password that has numbers, letters, special characters, perhaps even spaces… but these passwords are pretty hard to remember. Instead of using a password manager to store all the passwords safely, the majority of internet users simply opt for simpler ones that they can remember. Statistics show that the majority of American internet users prefer their memory, followed by pen and paper, to store their passwords. About a quarter of the respondents to a survey said that they save their password on a computer or a mobile device, and just 12% of them use a password manager (and just 3% of them use it often).

What most people forget is that they have a computer in their pockets that, with the help of a few apps, can turn into a third-party authentication device that can save you a lot of trouble.

Passwords at your fingertip

LastPass is one of the most-used password managers today, with more than 16 million users at the time of its 10-year anniversary (in 2018). It is a service that can be used on pretty much every device – it works as a desktop app, as a browser add-on, a web-based service, and a mobile app, too. When used on a mobile device with a fingerprint reader or another biometric authentication tool, it will add an extra layer of security to your digital life. In short, when used on a mobile phone, it’s not enough to know its master password to access your vault.

Authenticator apps

A simple, yet very efficient form of two-factor authentication is a third-party authenticator app. These apps are offered by several providers – Google is one of them. Using it is simple: you set it up by scanning a QR code or typing a unique code into the app on your phone and voila – from then on, nobody will be able to access your online services without your phone in hand. And before you argue that a text message sent to your phone number is just as good – a text message is relatively easy compared to figuring out the inner workings of an authenticator app.

Relying on your memory and your trust in the expertise of the services you use – that, as the example of Facebook has shown, is often not enough – will not keep you safe in our increasingly digital life. While the smartphone apps above are not the ultimate solution themselves, they can help you stay safer.

Chris McdonaldTechnology
Choosing a strong password is the first step toward keeping your information out of the wrong hands - but that's not enough today, in the age of data leaks and hacker attacks. Not to mention the almost criminal negligence of some of the most-used service providers online. Just think...