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The First Step To Password Domination: Categorize

Estimates vary, but the average person has about 90 logins. That’s practically a pad of Post-Its. This year, we’re taking control of our passwords.

Tech gurus no longer insist that every account have a unique password -- there are simply too many to remember. And they even say that for low-risk accounts, using the same password is ok.

The key is setting passwords according to the importance of the information in the account. Accounts with high value info should be protected with unique, strong passwords (and 2FA, if possible), but for accounts with middle or low value info, less complex and even “recycled” passwords are sufficient. Feel free to peruse Microsoft’s robust explanation here, if you have a few hours.

That said, here’s our action item for January: start a list of your computing accounts (on an Excel doc or good old-fashioned paper) grouped by what kind of stuff is there. You’ll probably want three tiers:

  • High Value: Financial, tax, health care, government accounts with direct access to financial or sensitive personal information
  • Medium Value: Accounts where financial information is stored for making payments and social media accounts where compromise might be embarrassing
  • Low Value: “Junk” accounts for fan sites, sale notifications, etc.

As you encounter a login this month, add the service (but not its password) to your list. Next month, we’ll start talking about what we should do with each category of account.  

Editors’ Note: We, your faithful safe computing advocates, are not immune to the trials of password management. Over the next few months, we’ll be working right along with you, straightening out our own morasses of accounts, logins, usernames, and passwords. We’re in this together, UD!
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