We’re going to make an educated guess and say that you have approximately seven billion online accounts. And maybe just as many passwords. And all this stuff is too much. It’s hard to keep track of your online identities, it’s hard to keep track of your passwords, too many organisations have your email, and so on.
If this is you, it’s time for an overhaul. Here’s how to do it.
Make a List
Make a list of every online account you have. Every single one. Every email address, online shopping site, bank account, social media, apps . . . we know, it goes on and on. If you’re having trouble remembering, go through your email and internet browser history. Keep the list saved on your computer though, because we guarantee you’ll be adding stuff later as you remember.
Divide Your List
Some of your accounts will be important. Your email. Anything attached to money. Social media that can’t be compromised.
Most accounts won’t be that important though. Your account with the local pizza place. Your app for tracking live music near you. Your points card for the movies. You get the idea.
Divide your list into the important accounts and your not so important accounts. Now, here’s a good password compromise. You know that you can’t use the same password across all your accounts. But you probably can’t remember thirty unique passwords. So just give unique passwords to the accounts on your ‘important’ list. The rest get to share a password. That way you have less to remember but are still secure where it counts.
Consider a Throwaway Email
Lots of online accounts get connected to your email, but do you really want them all connected? In the interest of security, consider using a throwaway account and connecting it to the online accounts on your ‘less important’ list. You can then use this throwaway email every time you find yourself having to sign up for something online but don’t want to give up your personal email.
Consider a Financial Email
Another step you can take is using several email address dedicated to financial stuff. Give it a name unconnected to your real name, like firstname.lastname@example.org, and use it only for banking, shopping, and applications where you aren’t exchanging messages with another person. This way, if someone is trying to break into your Amazon account, they won’t even have the email account you use with it.
You’re probably looking at your list and thinking “When on earth did I sign up for that?” Maybe it’s an online store you bought something from for a birthday in 2012. Or an app you don’t use anymore. Or you accidentally signed up for Skype twice.
It’s time to purge. Every account you don’t need, no longer use, or are otherwise sceptical about needs to be gone. It’s important that they no longer have your personal information. If you’re unsure of how to remove an account, check Just Delete Me. They’ll help you remove the offending account.
Consider a Password Manager
If you think you still have too many passwords or don’t know that it’ll be easy to remember them, consider getting a password manager. A password manager is a program that will keep track of all the passwords you use and enter them for you. It’s a good solution if you have a lot of accounts, can’t remember all your passwords, or just want an extra layer of security.