SHCC WYSIWYG Article from April 2021

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the April 2021 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Protect Your Passwords and User Names

by Don VanSyckel

There three things that all computer users should do:
1) Backup, backup, backup
2) Save all passwords in a secure location and don't use the same password at multiple places
3) Don't click on unknown links in emails

There are probably more items some of you would like to add to the list above but these three are very important and universal to all computer users.

#2 is probably the the one you've heard the least about, possibly nothing. The first part is saving your passwords in a secure location. I'm not a fan of saving my cache of passwords on line in any way, share, or form. Any web site or other web based service can be unavailable for a number of reasons. I prefer to keep passwords locally so that they are always available. I suggest using an encrypted file or a file in an encrypted directory or disk volume. Having a password on your computer is good but it doesn't prevent someone from pulling your hard drive and mounting in on another computer and accessing everything on the drive. So having the file encrypted is the only really safe method. The file type I suggest is either a spreadsheet or a database., not a word processor.

Some columns or fields you might consider are:
user name
account number

The other path you can take is to use a password manager software package that stores the data on your local hard drive. I haven't used any of these because I already had an encrypted disk volume and I saw no value in these packages. If you do go this route, I suggest you use a package that has an export feature. You might want to change packages in the future and exporting your information from the old package will be handy.

If you do choose to record user name, for an extra level of security you can also consider using different user names on various web sites.

Note, browsers such as Firefox can securely save your user name and password for most sites. Beware there are clean ups that you can do that will erase the user name and password cache. So I prefer to have my main data file totally under my control.

We have all heard about hacks and data leaks. If someone hacks into a company's user information and steals your user name and password, you don't want that to give them access to your accounts at other sites. This is why you want at least a different password at each site but also user name for better protection.

Doing this might sound like a lot of work and it is more work than doing nothing. Little in life that's worthwhile is totally free. This is also where backups are important. If your hard drive crashes with your encrypted password file on it you'll be very happy that you have a backup. This is true if you use my homegrown method or a password manager.

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