Wick Communications

About those passwords

In Ideas on 15 Mar 2013 at 9:27 am


If you are like me, you have just about replaced your tangle of cords (connecting your stereo to your television to your computer to your Easy Bake Oven…) with a tangle of online passwords. I have a list of about two dozen passwords that I keep in a completely unprotected file on my computer.

This is one of the dumber things I do, and that is saying something.

Periodically our own Pete Bakke reminds us to change passwords or be more careful with them. Why?

Take the case of Matthew Keys. He is a deputy social media editor for Reuters. This week he was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with conspiring with the hackers group known as “Anonymous” in order to mess up the website belonging to a Sacramento, Calif., television station. The feds say Keys, a former employee of the TV station, turned over log-ins and passwords to the hackers, though his motive for doing so hasn’t been made clear.

I am taking this as a warning of sorts. I intend to do something about my password mess. Here is as far as I’ve gotten: Not very far. But I know there are a number of free password storage utilities I can use to help me manage these things. Here is one for Mac and another for Windows.

Incidentally, the things I’m reading warn against those “remember me” easy-save options on your browser. If you think about it, using those allows anyone who can get his greasy paws on your computer to access your email, your Amazon.com account – all kinds of things.

I have no idea whether this Keys fellow did what he is accused of doing. I only know the case reminds me I should be more careful. Perhaps, Pete or someone who knows more will weigh in here.


  1. Very good topic, Clay. There are a couple issues here we should address. Access to all business sensitive accounts should be in the hands of the publisher, editor, and business manager. What I mean by this is the safe keeping of usernames and passwords to all Websites that are vital for the functioning of the newspaper’s print and Web business. With potential staff turnover, this is important to have in a couple places at the newspaper.

    To get to your point about personal password management – it’s something we all struggle with. Here at the Home Office we have started using 1password, but it costs $$. Here’s a freebie, though I haven’t tried it yet : https://lastpass.com/index.php , Recommended by PCMag.

  2. Thanks, Pete. Very good point re: company accounts. I did not mean to imply that things like the work Twitter or Facebook accounts are “ours.” Those should definitely be kept by the publisher for safety and continuity sake.

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