There was a time when passwords were a relatively uncommon thing. If you did have a password, it was probably for your email account. In the modern world, most people have dozens of passwords for each different website they use. You may have one for your cable provider, one for your phone provider, and one for each of your social media accounts.
Managing these passwords can be a difficult job—especially because you’re often expected to create a secure password using uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers. This is where password managers come in handy. They allow you to keep all of your passwords in one safe spot so you can always access all of your accounts. Here is what you need to know.
How Password Managers Work
Unless you use the same password or an iteration of it for every website—which is not recommended—it’s difficult to remember them all. Password managers allow you to simply remember one master password which provides you access to all of your other encrypted passwords.
Because of the way password managers work, it’s essential to choose a secure master password. Since you only need to remember this one password, you can use plenty of numbers, symbols, and different cases to make sure your password is difficult to guess.
Once you’ve entered your master password, you can view all of your passwords. Some password managers can even autofill passwords for you.
Are Password Managers Safe?
If password managers simply stored your login information in a password-protected file, they wouldn’t provide much security. This is why password managers use encryption to protect your password. Even if your master password is stolen, thieves will have to go through a lot of encryption to find any worthwhile data.
Your master password plays a role in the security of your passwords as well. While there is always encryption protecting your passwords, your master password is the first line of defense. If hackers can’t get your master password, they can’t even access the encrypted passwords.
Much of the concern over the security of password managers stems from two incidents. LastPass, a popular freemium password manager, had two separate security breaches in 2011 and 2015. This led to every LastPass user having to change their master password. However, LastPass has stated that neither of these breaches resulted in any users’ data being compromised thanks to the robust encryption they have in place.
Keep in mind that the security of your password manager depends on two things: The encryption quality of the password manager you choose and the master password you use.
Choosing a Password Manager
With the constant growth of the internet and the number of passwords people need to keep, there are tons of different password managers for you to choose from. Different password managers offer different encryption, various features, and compatibility with different platforms. If you need help choosing, here are some of the most popular options.
LastPass is the biggest name in password protection for a good reason. They have great encryption which has protected users against two separate data breaches, plus it’s easy to use. It is available on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux and Windows Phone. No matter what device you have, you can use LastPass to protect your password.
Dashlane is slowly becoming one of the more popular options due to its incredibly easy to use interface. All of your passwords are kept in a convenient grid-style layout with icons which looks similar to Windows 8 tiles or iPhone app icons. Dashlane also provides support for two-factor authentication and emergency contact password sharing.
There are other less popular options as well, many of which are free with no paid options. KeePass is one of the top free password managers, but its interface definitely leaves a lot to be desired. 1Pass is also a good option but faces some of the same interface problems as KeePass. Also, keep in mind that since these password managers are free and less popular, chances are they have weaker encryption. You’ll get the best security by choosing an industry leader like LastPass or Dashlane.
Now that you know all there is to know about password managers, you can secure all of your passwords and clear your head of login information.
Photo credit: The feature image “key note” was taken by wnhsl and the artist who crafted the sculpture is Michael Christian. The image “Lost Keys” was taken by Orin Zebest and the image “Come in” was taken by Johan Larsson.
Source: Michael McConnell (MakeUseOf) / Amber Gott (LastPass blog) / Gwynn Ballard (Security Baron)
Editorial notice: This article was made possible by site supporters.