Should I Use Password Managers?
Yes, You Should Use a Password Manager!
If you’re asking, should I use password managers? Yes, you should! In this digital age, you have a lot of passwords to remember, which is why password managers are so helpful: one single “master password” gives you immediate access to (ideally) all your other passwords. These stored passwords are either encrypted on the cloud or stored locally on a device (e.g. your computer or phone), usually with bank-level encryption, keeping them safe from hackers.
In addition to convenience, using a password manager significantly improves the security of your accounts. Many people recycle the same user name and password over multiple sites to make logging into their accounts simpler. While this might make things convenient for you, it puts your account information at great risk.
If someone obtains your username and password, they’ll be able to use it to hack into any account where you used the same login details. Having multiple passwords across different sites will mitigate this danger. Password managers can help you by storing the unique user name and password combinations separately and automatically filling them in when you log into an account. This eliminates the hassle of remembering several different passwords while still ensuring each one is unique and secure.
Finally, suppose you have trouble making up good passwords or remembering logins created by others (some websites don’t let users choose their usernames but instead autogenerate them). In that case, a password manager can help there as well. These programs allow users to generate strong random strings of characters for their passwords within seconds. Then, as soon as they’re created, they’ll be saved in the program without needing further input from you — meaning no more writing them down or taking screenshots on your phone!
A Password Manager Is an Excellent Way to Keep Your Online Accounts Secure
If you were to ask security experts whether or not you should use a password manager, they would most likely say yes. In fact, the National Institute of Standards and Technology discuss the benefits of using a password manager as one of the strategies to maximize your online account’s password strength.
“Password managers offer greater security and convenience for the use of passwords to access online services. Greater security is achieved principally through the capability of most password manager applications to generate unique, long, complex, easily changed passwords for all online accounts and the secure encrypted storage of those passwords either through a local or cloud-based vault. Greater convenience is provided by using a single master password to access the password vault rather than attempting to memorise different passwords for all accounts. Most password manager applications offer additional capabilities that enhance both convenience and security such as storage of credit card and frequent flyer information and autofill functionality” – NIST SP 800-63B.
As mentioned earlier, if someone were able to access one of your accounts through a data breach of a website or service provider, it wouldn’t be difficult for this person to try logging into some of your other accounts with data stolen from the first site (assuming that you’ve reused passwords across accounts). However, if those other accounts use unique credentials generated by a password manager, no others will be accessible since no two logins will be the same.
Password managers also make it easy for you change all of your passwords at once by providing a quick method in which they’re automatically replaced with new ones that are equally strong but different enough from each other that they can’t be guessed using common techniques (e.g. incremental counting or dictionary words). This ensures maximum security for users since even if one account is compromised through malicious activity or an error made by an employee at its hosting company, there won’t be any others with identical credentials allowing hackers access through back doors.
Top Tips For Secure Passwords
- You should use a variety of different passwords for every service you use. Don’t be tempted to reuse passwords or use simple passwords someone else could easily guess.
- Ideally, your password should contain a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. These are called ‘strong’ passwords.
- And make sure you don’t include any word or name that someone could guess easily by looking at your email address, social media profiles, website, etc.
Are Password Managers Easy to Use?
Using a password manager isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s the opposite.
A password manager is just what it sounds like — a tool that helps you manage your passwords. Like a vault for all your passwords and other sensitive information, it makes life easier by securely storing this data so that you don’t have to remember it all. That way, when a website requests your login information, all you have to do is input your master password, select the site you want to access from the stored list, and then copy and paste the details. Since accessing websites usually requires multiple steps to determine a user’s identity, being able to input passwords without having to memorise them for each site makes things much more efficient for you.
How Do I Set Up a Password Manager?
Each programme will come with specific instructions but most generally follow the below steps:
- Install the app or program onto your device, whether that’s your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
- Create an account and master password. This will be the only password you have to remember, so make it a good one! For example, use a mix of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in lieu of keyboard characters (e.g., * instead of “a”, % instead of “n”). Also consider using passphrases (as opposed to single words) that are easy for you to remember but difficult for someone else to guess.
- Fill in any additional information about yourself as directed by the app or program. This step isn’t always necessary up front; however, if you’re planning on using this information manager for other purposes later down the road (such as storing ID numbers and credit card numbers etc.), this is when you would enter that data into the system.
- Now that your information is securely stored behind a single locked door, you can stop worrying about losing all your data due to one compromised password and begin focusing on securing your online accounts!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Password Managers
There are several advantages of using a password manager. It allows you to store all of your passwords in one place with easy and secure access. You don’t have to memorise hundreds of different passwords, and you can change them as often as needed. Password managers will generate strong and unique passwords for each site or service.
If someone manages to hack into one of your accounts, it’s much less likely that they could access all of the rest. But if someone gets their hands on your password manager’s master password, then they can see everything — so it’s important to choose a strong one that no one else could guess or get hold of through social engineering tricks like phishing emails. That’s why some people use passphrases such as “ireallyLovemydogasheismyBESTfri3nd” rather than simple words like “BullTerrier”.
On the other hand, if you forget your master password, you need your password manager to have a secure recovery option – likely involving 2FA. It would be wise to write down your master password somewhere safe. You should also make sure that any company whose services are vital to your online security is stable and trustworthy before signing up with them! So, while I’ll list some recommended options to choose from below, always DYOR (do your own research) and read independent reviews to ensure you use the programme that’s best for you.
Free Versus Paid Password Managers
Did you know that some password managers are available for free? It’s true, and there’s no reason to think a paid service is worth the extra money. Free password managers can be just as good as paid ones. When it comes to features, the most important one — securing your passwords — is one that free services provide at least as well as paid ones.
The free options may not have all of the bells and whistles of their paid counterparts; however, most people don’t need those extras anyway.
Free password managers store your passwords securely, just like their paid counterparts do. The only real differences between them tend to be extra features: unlimited passwords, dark-web monitoring, encrypted storage for additional files or notes, etc. But because these aren’t things everyone needs or will use, it doesn’t make sense to pay for them if you don’t want them. That’s a decision for you to make.
But, What if I Still Don’t Want to Use a Password Manager?
- If you decide to stick with passwords you can remember yourself, you should still ensure you follow the tips mentioned in the Top Tips above.
- Consider writing them down in a notebook and storing them in a safe place offline — not on your computer or written on a sticky note attached to your screen! Just as we’d recommend for your crypto wallet’s private keys or backup phrases.
- Don’t label your storage place with something obvious like “passwords” where they are kept. Perhaps write something more innocuous like “addresses.”
- Do not share your passwords with anyone except, perhaps, one spouse or partner.
Recommended Password Managers
Here are five options listed in no particular order. Remember to DYOR and compare their features to choose the programme best suited for your needs. Look at independent review sites before making your final decision.
Bitwarden – https://bitwarden.com/
Dashlane – https://www.dashlane.com/
1password – https://1password.com/
LastPass – https://www.lastpass.com/
NordPass – https://nordpass.com/