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Opinion

Use a password manager

Like so many other technologies, IT – Information Technology – has the potential to make a substantive difference in our lives. Sometimes it offers something entirely new, something it reinvents something that may or may not need reinventing in the first place, and sometimes it solves an issue created by IT in the first place.

Douglas Adams, of Hitchhiker’s guide fame, wrote about how computers and IT has been described using many different models of understanding, such as an elaborate adding machine, a typewriter, and a television, before concluding that:

Of course, the computer isn’t any of these things. These are all things we were previously familiar with from the real world, which we have modelled in the computer so that we can use the damn thing.

Which should tell us something interesting.

The computer is actually a modelling device.

Douglas Adams in “Build it and we will come”

For me, beyond being a case management tool, an advanced typewriter and calculator, and a pretty decent communication tool, it is also a way to outsource my memory. I simply don’t need to remember every single detail of every single thing with which I interact on a daily basis. What I need is a way to collect, collate, and categorize information, as well as a way to retrieve it.

One example of this – which really is a solution to a problem I probably wouldn’t have – or at least wouldn’t have to anywhere NEAR the same extent if it hadn’t been for computers – is a password manager. I’ve been using some sort of password manager for more than five years, ensuring that no account has the same password as any others.

Combined with always enabling two factor authentication for any service that offers it, the use of a password manager helps me ensure that my security posture is stronger than at any time before. It also means that when – not if – an account somewhere is inevitably compromised, I don’t have to go around changing the password everywhere else – that password was unique for that site.

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