Knowledge is power, but it's also only the first step--we need to act on what we know. We eat our greens, try to exercise a few days every week, and floss between meals, but too few of us bother with secure passwords (to say nothing of changing them regularly). We know we ought to do so, but it's a pain. Ease the pain of keeping your Android device secure with a few simple tricks. Here's how to get started:
- Since you likely use the same passwords on your computer, start by downloading the Password Hasher extension for Chrome, Firefox, or Opera. If you don't use one of those browsers or can't install the extension everywhere you want, bookmark this page, which offers the same function (we'll revisit this page later).
- Password Hasher is fairly easy to use, and it's a good idea to redo your old, insecure passwords as soon as it's installed. (You may want to make a list of secure sites you frequent to make this easier.) Visit each site, log in, and navigate to the "change my password" section.
- When it asks for a new password, fire up Password Hasher through the extension or the Web page and then enter a master password--something secure and memorable. If you can memorize a string of characters, that's best, but as long as you're avoiding common password mistakes, you should be better off. Password Hasher will generate your secure password; explore the options if you want it longer or a site requires or prohibits certain kinds of characters.
- Once your passwords are safer, open the browser on your Android device and bookmark the Password Hasher page.
- Next, go to your main screen or somewhere else easy to find and long-press the screen, then select "Shortcuts," then "Bookmark," then "Password Hasher."
- You should see a bookmark icon on screen now. Tap it whenever you're asked for a password, enter your current master password, long-press the text field containing your new password, select "Select text," then long-press the password field in your Web page or app and select "Paste."
This technique is generally about as easy as entering even an insecure password, and keeps you much safer. You should be sure to change your master password (repeating step 2) now and then--once a month for higher security, every few months for a decent level. This can be done in a half-hour or less and should be a part of your regular computer maintenance.