Overcome password frustration with Joe Kissell's expert advice!

Take Control of
Your Passwords

Third Edition
Joe Kissell

Password overload has driven many of us to take dangerous shortcuts. If you think ZombieCat12 is a secure password, that you can safely reuse a password, or that no one would try to steal your password, think again! Overcome password frustration with expert advice from Joe Kissell!

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


Passwords have become a truly maddening aspect of modern life, but with this book, you can discover how the experts handle all manner of password situations, including multi-factor authentication that can protect you even if your password is hacked or stolen.

The book explains what makes a password secure and helps you create a strategy that includes using a password manager, working with oddball security questions like “What is your pet’s favorite movie?”, and making sure your passwords are always available when needed.

Bundle special! Save 33% when you buy this along with Take Control of Your Online Privacy for just $20.

Joe helps you choose a password manager (or switch to a better one) in a chapter that discusses desirable features and describes a dozen different apps, with a focus on those that work in macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android. The book also looks at how you can audit your passwords to keep them in tip-top shape, use two-step verification and two-factor authentication, and deal with situations where a password manager can’t help.

The book closes with an appendix on helping a relative set up a reasonable password strategy for those whose relatives have distressing password strategies, and an extended explanation of password entropy for those who want to consider the math behind passwords.

“Awesome. You did an amazing job breaking it down. This should be mandatory reading.” –Rich Mogull, CEO at Securosis

This book shows you exactly why:

  • 9-character passwords with upper- and lowercase letters, digits, and punctuation are not strong enough.
  • You cannot turn a so-so password into a great one by tacking a punctuation character and number on the end.
  • It is not safe to use the same password everywhere, even if it’s a great password.
  • A password is not immune to automated cracking because there’s a delay between login attempts.
  • Even if you’re an ordinary person without valuable data, your account may still be hacked, causing you problems.
  • You cannot manually devise “random” passwords that will defeat potential attackers.
  • Just because a password doesn’t appear in a dictionary, that does not necessarily mean that it’s adequate.
  • It is not a smart idea to change your passwords every month.
  • Truthfully answering security questions like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” does not keep your data more secure.
  • Adding a character to a 10-character password does not make it 10% stronger.
  • Easy-to-remember passwords like “correct horse battery staple” will not solve all your password problems.
  • All password managers are not pretty much the same.
  • Your passwords will not be safest if you never write them down and keep them only in your head.

But don’t worry, the book also teaches you a straightforward strategy for handling your passwords that will keep your data safe without driving you batty.

“Joe handles a confusing and scary subject more clearly and calmly than I would have thought possible. I’ll be recommending this book to just about everybody I know.” –William Porter, database developer, author, photographer

Joe Kissell

About Joe Kissell

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control books. He formerly wrote for publications such as Macworld, Wirecutter, and TidBITS. He lives in San Diego with his wife, his two children, and his cat.

What’s New in Version 3.1

In version 3.1 of this book, Joe updated the text to keep it current with the latest versions of macOS, iOS, and various password manager apps. The most significant changes were:

  • Added new information to "Threat #3: Brute-Force Attacks" about the latest techniques attackers are using to guess passwords

  • Expanded the topic "Usernames and Passwords: an Outdated Model" to say more about methods to replace passwords with biometrics, authenticator devices, or a combination of both

  • On that same subject, updated the discussion of "Physical Keys" with more information about hardware-based authentication devices

  • Rewrote much of the chapter "Pick a Password Manager"—especially the topic "Example Password Managers"—to reflect the latest options and his current advice; removed coverage of several password managers and added several new ones; and added the sidebar "How iOS 12 Improved Password Handling"

  • In "Prepare an Emergency Password Plan," added a real-life story about what can happen if you store an important password only in your head

  • In the chapter "Audit Your Passwords," added an entirely new topic: "Check for Compromised and Vulnerable Passwords"

Joe Talks Privacy and Passwords on MacVoices

Posted by Joe Kissell on April 12, 2019

Joe Kissell, author of Take Control of Your Online Privacy and Take Control of Your Passwords, joined Chuck Joiner of MacVoices to talk about significant updates to two of his most important books.

Joe Passes the Word about Passwords on MacVoices

Posted by Michael E. Cohen on March 30, 2016

Joe and Chuck Joiner of MacVoices sit down for a wide-ranging chat about the new edition of this book and the state of passwords in this age of multi-factor authentication, password entropy, and password managers. They discuss all the myriad ways you can improve your personal online security without having to create and memorize a new password like R>preVckEf7*fh% every few weeks.

Take Control and eSellerate Unaffected by Heartbleed Bug

Posted by Adam Engst on April 15, 2014

For anyone who is wondering, neither the Take Control Web site nor the eSellerate ecommerce site that we use for purchases were ever vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, so you don’t need to worry about the security of your Take Control transactions or account information. There’s no reason to change your Take Control password either, although it’s always a good idea to do that if your current password is weak.

February 16, 2021—We expect to release an update to this book in the first half of 2021.


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I've purchased several of [Joe's] books and found them more than helpful... you have kept me from committing technocide and offing my computers and iPhone. I am going to purchase more of your books as soon as I'm finished with this email. —Michael Israel, performance artist

I've been reading your Take Control books for years, and this book is the best yet. Just the right amount of knowledge to inspire action. The way most people do this stuff is frightening. I, for one, am going to move my personal stuff to your new system. —Matt C.

The author provides many useful tips to assist developing passwords and password management strategies. Do you know what a VIP list is relative to password security? I didn’t, but I do now, and I’m using it! — David M. Acklam, MyMac review

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