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Using multiple passwords . . . and how to keep track of them

Do you use the same key to unlock your house and start your car? Not if you understand the huge risks of losing that key.

But many computer users don’t think twice about using the same password for their online accounts. Whether it’s banks, credit cards, the IRS, academic and professional data, Facebook, or online shopping — it’s one password for all. In a 2010 survey, 41 percent of respondents said they use the same password for multiple accounts. With that single password, someone could easily access sensitive information in ALL of your online accounts.

A wiser approach is to use a unique password for each application you use. But who can remember or keep track of all those passwords, without, of course, writing them down?

Free software is available to help you remember passwords and track which one to use for each application. Consider using Password Safe (for Windows users) or KeePassX (for Mac users). Both of these tools can generate passwords for you and securely store your passwords.

Learn more about managing passwords, including how many passwords you might need.