In today’s world, everything is done over the internet. This is not the same world it was 20 years ago. It’s not the same world it was 10 years ago. The digital age moves at lightspeed, and you will get plowed over if you don’t at least try to keep up. One of the most common issues people have is online account security. There are several reasons for this, one being insecure passwords. According to this TIME article, some of the worst passwords of 2013 include, “123456”, “password”, “iloveyou” amongst others.

online securityThe challenge with passwords doesn’t just stop at always remembering a strong password, but also choosing different, strong passwords for your accounts that you’ll remember. Good luck. You don’t want to give an online thief or hacker access to all of your accounts because you’ve created a Master Password (strong or not) that opens every door. Even variants of a master password can be easily figured out.

Many email services, including Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook (previously Hotmail), include an extra layer of security called 2-Step Verification. You need to have a mobile device in which you can receive text messages in order for this to work. The way 2-Step Verification works, is the provider i.e. Gmail, will remember your computer’s web browser by placing a “cookie” on your local computer. Keep in mind, if you use a different browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) to access your email, you’ll have to repeat this process as it is browser and device specific.

During this setup process, it will ask you for your mobile device number. The provider will text you a 6-digit security code that you will need to provide during setup. This is 2-Step Verification. The first step is knowing the right password, the second step is receiving a text message on a device you own. Once you’ve completed this second step, there are settings you can check at the beginning of this process so that you don’t need to repeat this again. Simply check the box that says “Remember this computer/device.” For smartphones, you may be given the option to download the Google Authenticator App which in essence does the same thing, except no text is sent; you open the app and a random security code is generated for you.

Anytime someone, including yourself, tries to sign in to your email account on a new device (or new browser on a saved device), you will receive a text message with a security code. This code must be entered online before you can access your email on that device or browser. Imagine your email password acting like a flimsy screen door in a hurricane. Now, imagine if behind that flimsy screen door, there was a massive steel vault door that only you had the code to open. This is the security of 2-Step verification.  In fact, in the last month, I’ve received 2 text messages on my phone giving me a security code to enter. This was an attempt on my email from someone else besides me. I have multiple email accounts, all with 2-Step Verification enabled.   So it’s hard to say which account is trying to be accessed by a hacker or some bot. 2-Step Verification may be a minor hassle to setup, but it’s well worth it and gives you peace of mind.

You may have heard in recent days about a group of Russian hackers that stole 1.2 Billion username and password combinations, and more than 500 million email addresses from over 420,000 websites. Wowzers! Online security is being challenged every day. So outside of 2-Step Verification for some websites, how can you protect yourself on all the others that don’t offer this service? How can you create a strong, secure password for each website or online account, without duplicating a single password? Well, unless you’re Mike Ross and have a photographic memory, you probably can’t. However, there are some great services out there that can help you do just that–create online security with added peace of mind.

dashlane logoEnter Dashlane. Dashlane is maximum security for your online data. They use AES-256 bit Encryption (the world’s leading standard), your encryption key is not recorded–not even on their servers or your local device,  you have a choice whether or not you want to keep your data on one device, or you can sync it to multiple devices using AES-256 encryption, and they even offer 2-Step Verification through Google’s Authenticator App. You want secure? This is Fort Knox secure. Dashlane will randomly generate a strong, secure password for you (5-28 characters, your choice) and will automatically save it for you in their downloadable app. Whenever you go to that website again, it will automatically fill in your info, and/or log you in seamlessly. Dashlane even offers to store your banking, credit/debit card, and other personal information that you may need to use online. If you are currently using your browser to remember your password and private info, disable that feature immediately. It is unsafe, and you can read why, here.

Remember, your secure data is stored locally on your computer and is only accessible by entering 1 master password that you create at the beginning of the setup process. If you don’t want your information being synced to multiple devices, that is your prerogative. However, since Dashlane uses AES-256 Encryption to sync your information, you don’t really have anything to worry about. If you’re curious as to how strong AES-256 is, you can read this article. Dashlane offers their services for free, but if you want to sync multiple devices, they charge $29.99 per year for their service. Dashlane is available for Mac, PC, iPhone and Android. If you decide to sign up, use this link to get 6 months of premium service for FREE!! That’s a savings of $15 for your first year!

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the digital age moves at lightspeed. If you’re going to continue using the internet, protect yourself. Don’t open yourself up to needless attacks. Dave Ramsey even has mentioned in his FPU classes about having a “Legacy Drawer” to keep your family prepared in case something happens to you. Part of the items kept in this legacy drawer, are all of your passwords to important things such as banking, bills, etc. Dashlane solves this problem and is also very affordable.

Don’t put your security vulnerabilities off any longer. Take some time after you read this post and enable 2-Step Verification on all of your email accounts that provide it. You can find 2-Step Verification under your email or account settings. While you’re at it, sign up for Dashlane as well and get peace of mind today.