Online security — are you an amateur?

How do your security practices compare with those of the experts? In a recent Google report, the results of two surveys showed a gap between experts and non-experts. While both groups unsurprisingly considered passwords important, the way they approached passwords was strikingly different: experts overwhelmingly used a password manager — an app or service that securely stores password information — and relied on unique passwords; non-experts claimed to use strong passwords, but rarely mentioned unique passwords or password managers.

Why is unique important?

When an online service is hacked and passwords are stolen, they generally end up on lists that circulate around the world. The next time something is hacked, those passwords can be used to try to access accounts. If your password is the same in that case, then your account is in danger.

Can a password be strong without being unique? Yes, its strength can lie in other factors. But if it's already known, then it's like a strong but broken lock — pointless. This is why the experts value unique passwords so highly, and you should too.

Good passwords need a manager

There is then a crucial relationship between unique passwords and password managers. Using a password manager means the end of relying on your memory for a relatively small number of different passwords. It becomes easy to have strong passwords that are unique in every case. Of course, creating unique passwords means you soon have a large and growing list. A list locked in a safe may be the answer for some people, but a password manager is the only portable, shareable, sync-able solution there is. It's safe and simple: one strong, unique master password protects all the others.

Our recommendation

1Password is a password manager that we've used and praised for years. There's a free version for iOS (iPhone and iPad), and a paid one for Mac computers.