Password manager is a must

If you use "(NAME) 123," to log in, it's time to up your game

The other day a friend of mine told me his password was actually the name of a loved one, followed by “123.”

A few days later, he complained to me that he had been hacked.

Duh!

Kids, I’ve been preaching for years that people need to actually pay attention to having secure passwords and changing them regularly. Passwords a royal pain, but no one has come up with an effective alternative yet, so we’re stuck with them.

Weak passwords = hacks. Loss of personal identity.

One solution: password manager apps can keep track of all the many passwords we have to use to go from website to website.

This week, one of the most popular password managers, LastPass, announced it would no longer offer a free version. (Rates start at $36 yearly.) And that got many people riled. What to do now?

The answer is pretty easy: pay the money.

The best password managers are the ones that charge. They need to pay their staffs and make money, and in turn, end up having more secure, robust programs than those that are free.

Popular password managers include LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password. Here’s PC Mag’s rankings: https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-password-managers

With a password manager, you just have to remember one, unique, hard to crack password to get into the manager, which then automatically logs you in to websites when you visit them.

Remember that as awful as it sounds, you need one unique password for every website you go to. Because if you’re using “Jeff123” everywhere you go, all it takes is for a hacker to figure you out at Facebook, and from there, you’re toast on Twitter, Google and wherever else you go because you used the same stupid, easy to crack password.

In creating a new password, I like to take popular phrases, song titles, things I can easily remember, and alter them with numbers and symbols. (What’s your method?)

And thankfully, I subscribe to the Dashlane password manager, to keep all of them on track for me. Is it the best of the password managers? It may or not be, but it’s the one I use, and I’m very happy with it. (Starts at $59.99 yearly.)

Apple and Google have password managers built into the browser now, and they’re free, but for me, they go too far.

They will create really hard passwords (H4%%gb!!nx&&) and apply them to your website visits. But what happens when you’re watching your smart TV, and have to log in your Amazon, Apple TV, Roku, etc. accounts? Password managers work on the computer, and somewhat on mobile, but you can forget about streaming TV.

It’s hell. And as my friend Rob Pegoraro noted, the Apple manager isn’t available everywhere. It doesn’t work with Android phones, so if you use a Mac computer and a Galaxy phone, you’re screwed.

Either way, please do me a favor and get your passwords under control. And if I hear you’re using the name of your kids and 123, or your street address, I will need to unfriend you. Sorry.

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In other tech news this week

New gear: Apple enthusiast blogs are pegging 3/16 as the date for Apple’s next product launch, with a redesigned iPad Mini and iPad Pro, as well as the introduction of the Tile-like clone Air Tags. The Tags are bluetooth devices to help you find lost stuff. I believe Apple will also show off new computers too with the new M1 chip. Meanwhile, wifi speaker maker Sonos has 3/9 pegged for the introduction of a new gizmo, expected to be a smaller version of the wireless Move speaker.

Get ready for higher YouTube TV fees. The Google unit said it will be adding new features to the cable TV alternative service, YouTube TV, which now starts at $65 monthly, beginning in March, including streaming in 4K resolution and offline downloads. YouTube didn’t say it, but trust me, they ain’t giving this stuff away. Expect to pay at least $10 more monthly for these features.

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