If you spend any time reading articles and blogs about security, then it’s likely that you’ve come across a lot of advice on how to create and remember incredible passwords. Most articles on the topic give pretty good advice… for creating one amazing password. (Advice that would have helped me a lot in 8th grade when Mr. Gallo made us memorize the Gettysburg Address.)

LongandStrong-xkcd

Generally speaking, you want your passwords to be long and strong. So, you follow the guidelines outlined in one of the articles and you come up with a strong password: chameleonfly!caDILLac19river.

Now what?!

The problem is that most people have more than one password-protected account; not just 2 or 3, but 15-20, and many of us have a lot more than that. While it takes some practice, remembering one password isn’t that hard. What is hard is trying to remember a unique long and strong password for each of your accounts.

And that’s what the advice columnists often gloss over: how is a typical person supposed to keep track of all the passwords that are needed to function in our online society?

Don’t get me wrong – it’s very helpful to know how to create a strong password that you can remember. The problem is that it isn’t practical to try to remember all your passwords in a matrix in your head. What happens when you invariably have to change one, or you happen to forget one? That can wreak havoc on your mental matrix. Writing them all down on paper or in a spreadsheet also has significant drawbacks.

The point I’m making is that while many of us can benefit from advice on creating a strong, that’s really only part of the picture. You need a way of organizing and managing all those passwords. That’s the piece of the security puzzle that is often neglected.

The straightforward answer is to use a password manager. Use the super strong password you created as the master password for the password manager that works best for you. A password manager like Sticky Password will not only store all your strong passwords, but it will also create them for you and fill them in whenever you need them.

For my money, the folks at xkcd have the best graphical guide for creating a strong password.

(As for memorizing the Gettysburg Address, let’s just say that I’m glad it’s available online whenever I need it.)