I can’t remember any of my passwords, and that’s totally fine.
About a month ago, my editor-in-chief Gus Lubin told me that he literally didn’t know any of his passwords since he was using a password management app. I was already using one myself, but only to remember the passwords I came up with on my own.
Now I have given in to the urge to let an app do all the work, and it has paid off in ease of use and peace of mind.
Here’s why you should too.
The two main apps most people use are 1Password and LastPass, which operate in similar ways. These act as giant security vaults, taking in all of the hundreds of passwords for the sites you visit so you don’t have to remember them. When you visit your bank’s website, for example, LastPass will automatically fill in the username and password for you.
And the only password you need to remember from then on is the master password for the app. Or if you have it on your iPhone, you just need to use your fingerprint.
That’s all great, but the best feature is these apps can generate and store insanely strong passwords for you. In a world where many people still use “password” and “12345” it’s not surprising the Dark Web is filled with stolen accounts from Spotify to Netflix to Paypal.
But it doesn’t really have to be that way.
Once installed, the app’s browser extension will detect password fields for you. So when you’re signing up for a new service (or changing your password), two clicks will get you a password with a large number of random characters, isn’t in the dictionary, and would take a couple hundred years to crack.
strong password lastpassLastPass
Think you can come up with a strong password like this one on your own? Nope, you can’t.
“The longer your passwords could possibly be,” Kurt Muhl, a white hat hacker with RedTeam Security, previously told Tech Insider. “The more guesses it’s gonna take for me to get it right.”
It also helps to have different passwords for every site you visit, since getting lucky with cracking a person’s email account might help a hacker get into their bank or elsewhere. But unless you have an encyclopedic memory, that’s probably not going to be feasible.
Which is why a password management app should be doing all the work.
I know what you’re thinking: But what if my password management app gets hacked?
There’s certainly a risk of that happening, and even LastPass suffered a breach in 2015. But even then, no passwords were at risk since the company’s encryption standards are so high. And even if a hacker got the master password, the two-step authorization text message is likely to stop them in their tracks.
Good passwords are annoyingly hard to remember and people are lazy, myself included. But instead of writing down your weak password on a sticky note, “write down” a much stronger one in a secure vault like LastPass or 1Password.
Then you won’t end up on a list of worst passwords or suffer a breach. And life will be good.
“I know the passwords it’ll generate will be way better than mine, but to me I like knowing what my passwords are off the top of my head,” Tech Editor Dave Smith told me on Wednesday.
Just let it go, Dave. Let it go.