Passwords are the locks on the doors in your digital world. How strong are your locks?!

I changed all my passwords to ‘incorrect.’

That way when I forget, the system reminds me, ‘Your password is incorrect.’

 – Unknown

All joking aside, the average person now has 100 passwords and they are said to be the weakest link in cybersecurity. Your passwords allow access to all the “doors” in your digital world. Nothing is invincible, but you wouldn’t settle for rusty old locks on your home doors so please use secure passwords. Dedicating time to protect yourself, your identity, and your assets will help you feel safer in this ever-growing age of technology!

SEE IT. MAP IT. DO IT.© is the 3-step organizing process that works for all the areas of your space and life, including digital. Let’s use it to set up a solid foundation for your passwords.

SEE IT – Take a look at where you are now. As you answer these questions, notice what feelings arise and allow them to move through so you can feel better.

  • How do you feel about passwords?
  • What is your personal system for creating and storing passwords?
  • Do you know what creates secure passwords and why they matter?
  • What’s working? You can be specific or general.
  • What isn’t working? What don’t you like?

MAP IT – Make a plan for what you want. Yep, even for your passwords we go through this process. Empowerment is about creating awareness and taking action.

  • How do you WANT to feel about passwords and online security?
  • What would it be like to have secure passwords all stored in one place (not your memory)?
  • Set a timer for 20 minutes to do an internet search about securely creating and storing passwords. Make notes. Keep to the timeframe as you will see all kinds of information about the pros and cons of it all as well as data breaches. This time is about learning and making the best choices amidst all kinds of chaos. Keep to the 20 minutes to avoid a rabbit hole of fear and paralysis.
  • Schedule 6 sessions of 45 minutes each over the next 3-6 weeks for the Do It Steps.

DO IT – Take the steps to make it happen. Follow the steps below for your 45-minute sessions. Choose Path 1 for a Spreadsheet or Path 2 for an online Password Keeper.

  • Set the stage: Put your phone on Do Not Disturb/Focus
  • Path 1:
    1. Open a spreadsheet (Excel, Numbers, Google Sheets), save it as Digital Estate Plan. Do an internet search for how to lock a spreadsheet and add a password to your spreadsheet.
    2. Add 6 Column headings: Platform Name, Username, Password, Category/Folder, URL, Notes. Now skip down to “For both paths:”
  • Path 2:
    1. Choose an online password keeper and set up an account. Some possibilities include Keeper, LastPass, One Pass.
    2. Be ready to enter the following information: Platform Name, Username, Password, Category/Folder, URL, Notes. Now skip down to “For both paths:”
  • For both paths:
    1. Session 1: Add half of your passwords and corresponding info. Session 2: Add the other half. Session 3: Change 10+% of your passwords to generated passwords and do not repeat any password (this is a common way thieves make their way into multiple accounts). When doing this in a spreadsheet, you will need to generate it yourself. Format example – Z$w49P&2D@38!. **
    2. Be sure to list the login password to your spreadsheet or password keeper in your estate planning documents.

Stay committed to seeing this through and adjust along the way to fit your needs. Just don’t cut corners.

** In both spreadsheets and keepers, avoid using uppercase i’s and lowercase L’s as they look the same in some fonts and avoid using zeros and O’s as they also can cause confusion.

Important Notes:

Having online accounts of any kind (social media, shopping, financial…) means it is more than likely your information will end up on the dark web at some point. Once a hacker successfully learns a password, often found on the dark web, they will take that same password and try it across multiple common platforms. Longer, generated passwords help keep them from accessing other accounts.

Yes, this feels scary. Generated passwords alone are not the answer. May experts say it is not a matter of IF, but WHEN everyone will experience some sort of data breach, identity theft, or hacking. There are many secure ways to protect yourself. Install anti-virus and malware software on your computer, install updates, and set up two-factor authentication. Monitor your credit and social security number as well as locking all 3 of your credit files. Identity theft protection is the most proactive and comprehensive plan as it monitors your personal information, including social security number, in various online places including the dark web, and informs you as things show up like an application for a new account.

Everyone has slightly different opinions about these matters and there are pros and cons to all the ways of storing your sensitive information. Bottom line, if you take proactive steps you will be more protected and also more educated and empowered should you find yourself in a compromised situation.

This advice is not a substitute for legal counsel. Always consult your attorney with any questions or concerns. Stay safe out there!

Your Guide, Kate Fehr. I am passionate about teaching people the skills of clutter clearing, organizing, and simplifying.