10. Aside from the security risks of poor password management, there are also many practical implications. The first, of course, is that you can't function if you forget passwords. Some people get locked out of their own computers, or can't install software because they can't remember the password.
9. To make matters worse, some banks now issue keychain-sized code generators that issue a new access number each time you press the button. On some business accounts, this new code must be entered in conjunction with an established user name and password. And it's only going to get worse as ever more sites require users to pass security checks in order to enter.
8. Password management software can make your life a little easier. These inexpensive programs, ranging from $15 to $30, will store and organize all of your user names and passwords. And some will automatically insert the information for you. Usually, such software will encrypt your information, requiring one "master password" to access all the others. So you only need to remember one. The software logs you in automatically, and can generate strong passwords for greater security. Some password programs will store and encrypt other sensitive information that often accompanies passwords, such as credit card and bank account numbers.
7. There's a movement underway at major internet firms to create a system that lets users consolidate their internet identity, eliminating the need to create separate IDs and logins at each website. It's called OpenID, and Yahoo is one of the firms that's supporting it. Yahoo's OpenID service became available in public beta in 2008. Somewhat miraculously, the OpenID technology will allow you to use your Yahoo account to sign into hundreds of other websites, with the list growing daily. For details and to sign up, visit opened.yahoo.com.
6. RoboForm ($29.95) memorizes your passwords and logs you into websites automatically. It can fill out registrations and checkout forms with one click; encrypts your passwords for maximum security and generates random, hack-proof passwords. It will also backup your passwords and synchronize passwords between different computers, such as your home, office, laptop and handheld devices. www.roboform.com.
5. TurboPasswords ($29.95) protects your private information with a single master password and uses data encryption for extra security. Synchronize the software with your handheld or smartphone for easy access anywhere you go. www.chapura.com.
4. Password Locker ($14.95 as download) lets you save, retrieve, print and manage passwords, and will automatically log you onto websites. www.ezpasswordmanager.com.
3. Password Agent ($24.95) will store any textual information you need to keep track of and find quickly, from passwords and web logins, to credit card and passport and serial numbers. Create your own custom groups and subgroups to organize your entries. www.moonsoftware.com.
2. Password Safe Pro ($29.95) bills itself as an easy-to-use password protection package with a feature others don't have: an internal timer that terminates the program after three minutes of inactivity, for an added level of protection. www.passwordsafepro.com.
1. With any of these programs, you MUST be able to remember your master user name and password. The software is built to protect your information even from the engineers and programmers who design, develop and market the software.