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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 14: Instantly Recall Any Number of Different Passwords

Level Easy

Platform All

Cost Free

Any computer-system administrator will tell you that the easiest and most secure place to store passwords is in your head. However, remembering the dozens of passwords you need to access networks, websites, and computers at work and at home seems like an impossible task — unless you’ve got the right system.

A good password is easy for you to remember and hard for others to guess. Easy enough for one password, but everywhere you turn you have to come up with another to register for a website or wireless network or to set a PIN. How do you choose new passwords? More important, how do you remember them?

Don’t Use the Same Password for Everything

You wouldn’t use the same key for your car, home, office, garage, and safety deposit box, so you shouldn’t use the same password for all your virtual locks, either. The problem with using the same password for everything you do is that if it’s compromised and someone finds it, the rest of your identity is at risk.

If your mutual fund company, for example, has a security breach that exposes usernames and passwords, and you use the same login details there as for your online banking and at Amazon.com, the thieves could compromise not only your mutual fund account but also your bank account and the credit card details stored at Amazon.com. If you give your roommate your wireless-network password and it’s the same as your email password, it wouldn’t be ...

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