In an increasingly digital world, we’re switching more and more of our daily lives over to the Internet. While this brave new world is exciting and convenient, it’s not without its problems.
The issue of unsafe passwords has been around for a while. But have you ever thought about where and how to store them?
Most of us have several passwords, and we’re encouraged to never duplicate them. Some people simply write them all down on a piece of paper — which is fraught with danger. But others store their passwords electronically.
As you’re about to find out, not all electronic systems of password storage are safe. Here are five of the most dangerous ways to store your passwords.
But before we begin:
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Have you ever emailed yourself a password to ensure you’re never without it? Great idea, right? Actually, emailing yourself your passwords is a really bad idea, and here’s why:
- Emails are usually sent in plain text. Without encryption, your passwords are susceptible if your email account is ever compromised.
- Unsafe passwords sent via email often pass through several systems and servers. There’ll also be a copy in your sent folder. If someone else can access your email account, your passwords become vulnerable.
- Some email platforms store data locally on a drive. If someone steals your computer, phone, or tablet, your passwords become vulnerable.
A really bad idea for passwords is to send them via email — either to yourself or someone else. Hackers and scammers are more resourceful than ever, and they can often steal your information before you realize you’ve been compromised.
It’s tempting to send a quick email to yourself containing unsafe passwords when you sign up for new online services. For the sake of an extra minute or two, don’t give fraudsters easy access to your accounts. Use an encrypted email vault to safeguard all your passwords.
2. Online Documents
A lot of people like the convenience of saving crucial information using online document systems such as Google Docs. But this is a bad idea for passwords, as these systems are designed for text — not sensitive data.
Yes, a password might protect your online document manager from unauthorized access. But what happens if that password is compromised? Many document software platforms don’t offer encryption, two-step verification, or even the most basic security measures.
If you use online documents regularly, you’re probably accessing your account on a regular basis — across several devices. What happens if you step away for a moment to buy a coffee, speak to a friend, or use the bathroom?
A criminal can access an unattended online document platform in seconds. And if this happens, it doesn't take a lot of effort to steal your unsafe passwords.
3. Instant Messaging Service
Instant messaging services provide us with a convenient way of staying in touch with friends and family. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat were designed for private online conversations — not for storing passwords.
People who store their passwords on these apps do so because they believe they’re fully encrypted. While that’s often the case, it’s important to remember that instant messaging services are often left open and operating in the background.
Imagine someone picks up your phone while you’re not paying attention. If you left your device unlocked, that person would be able to access your password in seconds.
It’s always a bad idea when passwords are stored on instant messaging services. By nature, these apps are designed to operate in the background — alerting you when someone sends a message. And because they’re open, anyone with the device in their hand might be able to steal your unprotected passwords.
4. Online Note-taker
Developers design online note-takers for everyday lists and reminders. While they’re great for creating to-do and shopping lists, they’re not so good for storing unsafe passwords.
An app such as Apple Notes is easy to use, accessible, and convenient. But it doesn’t offer two-step authentication, encryption, or any sophisticated form of security.
If your computer or mobile device is unlocked, your saved passwords are vulnerable. In many cases, a criminal would simply need to open the app to gain access to your sensitive information.
OK, you might be extra vigilant when it comes to keeping your phone or computer locked. But hackers are resourceful, and they’re very good at discovering unsafe passwords. Once they access your phone, any passwords stored in your note-taking app become vulnerable.
5. On a Non-Password-Protected Device
Of all the bad ideas for passwords, storing them on non-password-protected devices is about the worst. You might think that your tablet or laptop never leaves your side. But if your device is ever stolen, you’ve given the criminals the easiest possible opportunity to access your saved passwords.
If you’re determined to store passwords on a physical device — which is never a good idea — make sure the device password is a complex combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. And it should contain at least 12 characters.
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Remembering and safely storing a dozen or more passwords isn’t a simple task. By locking away all your passwords in a digital vault, you get maximum protection and easy access.
TeamPassword offers a range of security features — designed to keep your passwords safe. Offering two-step authentication and encryption, this powerful protection system solves the problem of unsafe passwords with ease. Sign up for a free trial to see these exciting features for yourself.