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Nearly two-thirds (63%) of confirmed data breaches involve weak, default, or stolen passwords, according to a major study. So it wouldn’t be surprising if, upon discovering that a not-so-secure password like 123456 were compromised and led to a breach, the user of this password declared, “Boy, that was dumb!”

For people like this and for countless others who don’t want their data and systems compromised as the result of poor password management, relief is here. It is in the form of a concise, comprehensive, and free booklet written for all of us “Dummies.” And you can get your copy of Password Management for Dummies here.

Helping Dummies for 26 years

Everyone is familiar with the 26-year-old Dummies series, launched in 1991 with the now legendary DOS for Dummies. How good are the books in this series? Windows for Dummies has sold more than 15 million copies in multiple languages across the globe. More than 200 million Dummies titles are in print, with the switch well underway now to digital download for distribution.

All of the nearly 3,000 titles in the Dummies series have one thing in common: They make the complicated very easy to understand and put into practical use. Password Management for Dummies continues with this noble and time-tested tradition.

The beauty of Password Management for Dummies is its conciseness and simplicity. The meat of the booklet is contained in 18 pages, and it is organized into five simple chapters. Perhaps the essence of this booklet’s importance is captured in the introduction, where it states, “No matter how much you have to do to protect your (digital) assets, it’s still much easier to prevent problems up front than it is to clean up the resulting mess if you are attacked.” When it comes to cyber breaches, truer words were never written.

A source for businesses and individuals

Further, the booklet is written both for individuals seeking to prevent unauthorized access to personal files and records, as well as for small and midsize businesses. The booklet guides each of these different user constituencies through a simple risk assessment before diving headlong into a broader understanding of the importance of passwords in protecting data. Bad passwords are an open door to cybercriminals and the root cause of a majority of affirmed cyber breaches. Much of this section is reflected in a blog published earlier this year.

Given all the risks associated with poor password management by individuals and employees, Password Management for Dummies offers a candid assessment of the reasons behind bad password practices. In essence, it is just too difficult if not impossible for anyone to remember dozens of different, complex passwords needed for all the systems and sites people access without resorting to bad practices, like writing them on sticky notes or in spreadsheets.

What to look for in a great password manager

That is where Password Management for Dummies delivers its most valuable message, articulating the benefits of a trustworthy, established password management solution as well as the attributes to look for in such a system. Among these attributes are:

  • The option of using two-factor authentication, such as a password and a mobile phone alert PIN or biometric impression
  • Ability to keep track of all passwords and to automatically generate highly complex passwords that are virtually impossible to crack
  • Automatic encryption of passwords that extends to any data and files in transit that might be breached, such as videos, photos, and digital certificates
  • An encryption key that is available to the user and only to the user
  • Support for a broad range of operating systems and platforms such that the purchase of a new smartphone or laptop doesn’t necessitate using a different password manager
  • For an SMB, a management dashboard that enables an administer to quickly and easily determine the relative strength of passwords employees are using without ever having actual access to those passwords
  • The ability to safely and securely share passwords among different employees
  • Help justifying the cost of a business password management system (they are broadly available free for individuals), based largely on reduced helpdesk time resetting forgotten passwords

Cyberthieves count on a continuation of bad password practices. Keeper Security analyzed 13.5 million passwords compromised in data breaches in 2016. The three most common were 123456, 123456789, and 12345. An easy path to far better and easier and cybersecurity is just a click away.