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Passwords 6/20/14

Cyber thieves are always looking for new ways to steal your personal data. One of the best ways to protect yourself online is using strong passwords.

But who can remember all those passwords? Like many people, Virginia Doetsch can't.

"Between my home and my office, I probably have 15 to 20 different passwords that I have to remember. And they change almost quarterly now. Sometimes I almost need passwords for my passwords," Doetsch said.

One solution - password managers. Consumer Reports' Dean Gallea tested one called LastPass that keeps all your passwords in one place and says it's a good option.

Gallea said, "LastPass saves your login ID and password for websites you've told it to. And the next time you go to that website, it fills it in for you."

But isn't LastPass also vulnerable to hackers?

"LastPass stores your personal information in its secure online vault, and any communications between that vault and your computer are encrypted so that it makes it effectively unreadable, even to a hacker," Gallea said.

You can download the service for free for use on your computer, or if you want the $12 a year premium service, you'll get access to LastPass on all your mobile devices. But some people, like Virginia, are too afraid to put their passwords in the hands of someone else.

Another option - create easy-to-remember, hard-to-crack passwords yourself.

"A more secure password has at least nine characters and has a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. You can use a core password that's easy to remember and then put characters ahead of it and after it to vary it for different websites," said Dean Gallea.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright ©2014 Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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