The Perfect Pandemic Project: Set Up a Password Manager

Tired of baking and endlessly organizing all the nooks and crannies of your home during the pandemic? Take on a new project: Setting up a password manager.

We’ve all had pandemic projects, right?

Barring some particularly nerdy exploits, my list is probably not too dissimilar from others out there.

Two months into our weird new world, I’ve:

  • Sorted out all the junk on the shelves in the basement
  • Cleaned out the closet full of baking clutter
  • Washed and waxed my car (multiple times)
  • Planted a garden
  • Made bagels (multiple times; see above photo for proof)
  • Perfected my omelet skills
  • Baked soft pretzels
  • Taken up bird watching (thanks Jeremy Schwartz)

Characteristics of the Perfect Project

But there’s one project I wish I had saved up for these  times because I believe it’s the “Perfect Pandemic Project.” Here are its characteristics:

  • It takes several hours, but can be done in small increments, dispersed over time
  • It creates a sense of order and neatness in your life
  • It both absorbs your attention and is fairly mindless at the same time
  • It is the SINGLE BEST THING you can do to improve your cybersecurity
  • You can probably justify doing some of it during work hours

What is this perfect pandemic project?

Setting up a password manager.

Recommended by Security People Everywhere

Ask people in security what’s the first thing they’d recommend you do to improve your cybersecurity, and more often than not they recommend setting up and the REGULARLY USING a password manager.

I drank the Kool-Aid a few years ago and wrote a piece about it in CSO magazine that I think still holds up (and both my wife and I are still using Dashlane.) Even those who don’t think password managers are a panacea still recommend them.

There are a lot of password managers you can choose from (see recent roundups in Wirecutter, PCMag, and CNET for starters), but the good ones all work basically the same: you create a long, complex master password for your password manager; install the password manager of your desired devices; and then let the password manager create and manage complex unique passwords for every single site that you access.

So take a look at the reviews, choose your software, and get started.

Let a Password Manager Work Its Magic

Within a few days, you’ll have purged your world of duplicate passwords and stopped the hacker using a password they got from a breach on one site to hack your account on another site. (Yes, your password has been compromised before; check here.)

A few days later, you’ll realize that you have no idea what many of your passwords are, because you’ve trusted your password manager to handle that noise.

Within a few weeks you’ll notice that you’ve completely embraced a new routine for creating uncrackable passwords for all your accounts, and you’ll be using the tools with ease across all your devices.

In the end, you’ll develop a simple and easy way to manage one of the more complicated elements in your digital life. Maybe best of all,you’ll never again hear that critical voice in your head when you add another digit or exclamation point to your tired old bank of passwords.

CONFESSIONS OF AN AWARENESS NERD

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