Passwords are a series of letters and/or numbers that restrict access. Only those that know the password are able to have access to that account, computer, or information. The underlying principle of passwords is protection.
Ideally passwords should consist of a random series of alpha and numeric characters; this makes remembering passwords challenging. As a result, most individuals choose passwords that are easy to remember such as common words or popular proper nouns; words that are based on significant events in their lives; or are based on their personal information such as birthdays, anniversaries or names of their spouses or schools. While it helps make passwords easier to remember, it makes passwords easy to guess or crack. Once a password has been cracked, it is rendered useless since anyone can have access to that account or information. In the worst case scenario, the intruder can lock out the user; change his or her information/details on the account; and even perpetrate a crime, the blame for which can fall solely on the person locked out.
The easiest way to store passwords is to list them down on the NotePad or WordPad, and save it onto the desktop. This is the easiest way; it is also the most useless, all that has to be done to gain access to the saved passwords is open the document file. For added security, an encryption program may be installed and used on the password text file.
There are free programs that mimic the real world’s post-its. Once installed, these programs appear as virtual post-its on the desktop and can be written on or deleted as the user may please. These virtual post-its are more convenient than document files; they do not have to be opened to view the saved text information. Like document files, this is not the best way as the passwords are easily viewable even from a distance.
Programs that are frequently accessed provide options to their users for saving passwords. The most common example is web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera. These browsers enable their users to save passwords to email and other web-based accounts for easy access. These password protection options are found in options or preferences menu.
Another way of storing passwords is by using password management programs. These programs are designed to multi-task so they do not just save passwords. These programs encrypt the user’s passwords and fill in the blanks for the user automatically the next time that database, program or account is accessed. Some of these programs are for free, some need to be registered for the user to enjoy all of the programs features.
The best way to manage passwords is to use a single password for all accounts and to commit this password to memory. It must consist of both letters and numbers, with neither letter nor number being sequential. Last, it must be changed if not often at least periodically.
--- Maddie Wesson, 2006