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Personal Cyber Security Resources for Older Adults: Password Management

A guide to building personal cyber security awareness for older adults

Introduction-Password Management

Today everyone has passwords for their bank account, email, online shopping, and for social media. Creating and remembering strong passwords or using a password manager is an important step in personal cyber security. Strong passwords are the first line of defense against stolen personal information like your banking information or medical records. 
 

This page will focus on tips for creating and remembering strong passwords, how to set up two-step authentication and explain what password managers are and how to use them. 

An animated video published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation explaining the why passwords are vulnerable and how password managers can help. 
 

Surveillance Self-Defense. (2019, November 11). Animated overview: Using password managers to stay safe online. Electronic Frontier Foundation. https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/animated-overview-using-password-managers-stay-safe-online

 

Making a Strong Password

Tips:

  • Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. If thatpassword becomes compromised  then all of your accounts are at risk.
  • Avoid using personal information in passwords like birth dates, names, addresses, or pet names.
  • Avoid using common patterns like “1234” or “abcd.” 
  • Use at least eight characters or more. 
  • Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Use special characters “ $ & !” and numbers to replace letters.

How to make a strong password:

 

  • One method is to create a formula of something memorable to you like your favorite animal and fruit. In this example we will use “Cats like apples”  
  • Replacing the letters with special characters or numbers: 
  • Replace “a” with the symbol “@”
  • Replace each space with the symbol “!”
  • Replace “s” with the symbol “$”
  • “Cats like apples” becomes “c@t$!like!@pple$”

Referenced: 

Senior Planet. (2013, December 6). How to create–and remember–a secure online password. https://seniorplanet.org/how-to-create-a-secure-online-password/

Password Managers

Dashlane is a password manager for less experienced computer users with a free version that is compatible with Windows, Mac, iPhones, and Android mobile phones.  
 

LastPass is a tiered subscription password manager ranging from free to annual subscription plans. Includes plug-in for web browsers and a mobile app for smartphones and tablets. 
 

Bitwarden is a free password manager that can be installed on either  Windows or Mac, and has an easy to download plug-in on web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox.

Signing up for a Password Manager

LastPass sign up instructions created by Vanessa Castaldo (April 2020).

Additional Password Security

A video published by Google explaining what two-step verification is and how to enable it on Google products like Gmail. 
 

Google. (2011, May 27). Using 2-step verification. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMabEyrtPRg
 


Two-step verification:

Two-step verification also known as “two-factor authentication” is an additional layer of security proving you are the owner of your online account. It is like a door that needs two different keys to unlock. A common example of two-step verification is logging in with your password first and then logging in with a second step like a PIN number sent via text message to your mobile phone.  
 

This way if someone gets a hold of your password, they still won’t be able to access your account because they won't have the second step. 
 

Two-step verification is optional so you will have to go to the accounts privacy settings to set it up. 

 

Setting up two-step verification:

  • Instructions for Gmail
  • Instructions for Yahoo (Video)
  • Instructions for Apple accounts
Security Questions:

Some websites use security questions to verify that you are the owner of the online account. Security questions are predetermined questions that you created answers for  when you first signed up for the account. Security experts suggest giving fictional answers since many security questions can reveal personal information about you. For example, if the security questions asks: 
 

What is your mother's maiden name?” 
 

It would be best to make up a name or use a password manager to create an answer instead of providing the real answer to protect your family information. 

Web Resources

Password creation:


How to Create – and Remember – a Secure Online Password-- a guide by Senior Planet on how to create a memorable password.

 

Senior Planet. (2013, December 6). How to create–and remember–a secure online password. https://seniorplanet.org/how-to-create-a-secure-online-password/


Making a Good Password -- published by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, includes clear and simple tips for creating and managing your password security. 


Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. (2019, July 15). Making a good password. https://privacyrights.org/resources/making-good-password

Two-step verification:

 

Password Help: What Is Two-Step Verification? -- A simple explanation by Senior Planet on what is two-step verification and how to set it up. 
Senior Planet. (2014, April 15). Password help: What is two-step verification?

https://seniorplanet.org/password-help-how-to-protect-yourself-with-two-step-verificatio/


How to: Enable Two-factor Authentication -- Published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an independent nonprofit that works to educate the public and protect online privacy. This guide outlines how and why you should use two-step verification or “two-factor authentication” for your personal security. 

 

Surveillance Self-Defense. (2019, October 29). How to: Enable two-factor authentication.  Electronic Frontier Foundation. https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/how-enable-two-factor-authentication

Password Managers: 

How to Use a Password Manager to Make Strong Passwords Easy -- A step by explanation by Senior Planet on how to set up a password manager on your computer and browser.


Senior Planet. (2014, April 16). How to use a password manager to make strong passwords easy. https://seniorplanet.org/how-to-use-a-password-manager-to-make-strong-passwords-easy/


Animated Overview: Using Password Managers to Stay Safe Online -- An simple introduction on why passwords are vulnerable to attack and how a password manager can help manage all your different passwords.
 

Surveillance Self-Defense. (2019, November 11). Animated overview: Using password managers to stay safe online. Electronic Frontier Foundation. https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/animated-overview-using-password-managers-stay-safe-online


Creating Strong Passwords Using Password Managers -- Published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation an independent nonprofit that works to educate the public and protect online privacy. This guide outlines how and why you should use a password manager.
 

Surveillance Self-Defense. (2018, October 28). Creating strong passwords using password managers. Electronic Frontier Foundation. https://ssd.eff.org/en/node/23/


3 Ways a Password Manager Can Help Aging Parents Stay Safe Online -- A blog post by LastPass on how a password manager can help older adults safely navigate cyber scams and reduce the stress of keeping track of passwords. 


Bachmann, L. (2019, November 7). 3 ways a password manager can help aging parents stay safe online. LastPass. https://blog.lastpass.com/2019/11/3-ways-a-password-manager-can-help-aging-parents-stay-safe-online.html/


Best Password Managers to Secure Your Digital Life-- Wired Magazine specializes in technology and the web. This article reviews password managers from February 2020 featuring a list of different price ranges and features.
 

Gilbertson, S. (2020, February 1). The best password managers to secure your digital life. Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/best-password-managers/