Why you should have a password manager
Every online account of yours should have a really strong, totally unique password. In this world where databases are regularly hacked, and personal information is too often shared online, that’s pretty much a requirement of modern life.
Not only is online security something everyone should be thinking about, but it matters even more to someone who is now single.
As a divorced mom, you need to make sure that you, and only you, have access to your important accounts (assuming, of course, you have that legal right), and that your data will stay private — especially if you are separated from or divorcing someone who may choose to cause problems.
So what can you do to be as safe as possible? Well, there are many things that will help, but one thing that is in your control right now is to create unique passwords for every site that you visit — and make sure they’re stronger than the Incredible Hulk on a bad day.
A tool to help you stay organized & safer online
So let’s say you make up some random string of numbers, letters and punctuation. Cool. But how can you ever possibly remember a password like sD&F^D7msd$h943?
It doesn’t matter how, because you don’t have to! You’re going to outsource that job, because you don’t have time for that.
A great way to keep your login info long, complicated, and hard to break is by using a well-known and secure password manager, like LastPass, Dashlane or 1Password. They will help you create random keyboard mashings, and then keep track of them for you.
That way, you can easily use your computer, phone and/or tablet to access all of your favorite sites (plus ones that aren’t so fun, like the one reminding you of your credit card balance, and the browser tab with the video workouts that you keep meaning to do… one day).
Tip: Do NOT let your browser save your user name or password for your password manager. That will compromise your security, which is the point of all of this. Read more about that just below.
But don’t manage everything
There are a few “keys to the kingdom” that you won’t want to put in a password manager.
We’re talking about your most important passwords — the ones that are at the core of your life: your primary contact, your money, and the key to the other keys.
That means you need to super-protect your main email inbox, access to your bank account(s), and the login information for your password manager itself.
This is more important than ever after divorce, because you aren’t likely to have the kind of secondary access a spouse could offer in case of a problem — nor their help to cope with identity theft or a security breach.
Your email inbox needs to be super safe because, in addition to your normal messages, that is where things like password resets, account access warnings, and some two-factor identification challenges are sent.
Basically, if one of your other accounts is accessed, you should have it set up so you get a notification. In that case, you will control the only way (theoretically) that someone can update or change an account holder.
Tip: Do NOT let your browser save your user name or password for your key accounts, either.
Go on – do it now!
When you next log in to your various online accounts to confirm or update your new life details — your email address, mailing address, phone number, and/or possibly your name — take that time to create new and strong passwords, to check your contact info, and to add that shiny new access information to your password manager.
While you’re at it, it might be a good idea set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for an extra level of security on your most important accounts. (2FA is the thing where they have to text you, email you, or have you enter a code from another app to verify your identity before you can access an account.)
This will help you guard against identity theft, regular theft, invasion of privacy, and whatever other kinds of mayhem criminals get into these digital days.
2FA isn’t available for everything, which is fine, because you won’t want to deal with the extra bother for stuff like your fast food reward program (even if you rely on it for free fries every Friday) or your printer warranty details. Find out more about the whys and hows of 2FA here.
It can be for the kids, too
If your littles are old enough to need their own password repository, all of the companies we listed above offer special family plans, so you can all use one secure account.
Those services will let you maintain separate (hidden) passwords if you want, or you can have full control over your kids’ logins.
With luck, your children will never have to know the stress of having to remember a password that uses similar-looking letters and the kinds of odd punctuation you never otherwise see in the real world.
NOW SEE THIS: How can you avoid some common Craigslist & PayPal scams?