The number of passwords we all have to remember has grown exponentially with the huge number of online accounts that most of us use on a regular basis, from social media platforms through to banking and online grocery shopping. To deal with this abundance of passwords, some people tend to reuse the same password over and over again – exposing their whole digital lives to hackers – while others use a physical notebook (or a Word document) to keep track of their user names and passwords. It’s understandable, then, that a growing number of users turn to password managers – but is storing all your credentials (online and off) in one place really the smartest thing to do?
What Are the Drawbacks of Password Managers?
Certainly, having all your passwords stored in one place does create concern: what if someone breaks into the app? They would have access to all your sensitive data and that would pose a huge risk; no one wants to wake up to empty bank accounts and being locked out of their own digital life.
The same might happen if the master password – the only password that users need to remember – is lost, as these services usually can't recover the master key for security reasons.
Unfortunately, we don't have to go too far back in time to read about security issues that popular password managers have faced: LastPass has had serious issues in the past, but others such as Keeper, Dashlane, and even 1Password are no exceptions. The good news is that security experts keep an eye on these services and notify service providers about any bugs they find. From that moment on, how these services react is one of the factors that should influence your choice of password manager.
Using Password Managers Properly
In a market flooded with good and bad software, security experts seem to agree on one thing: the safest way to manage your digital life is to use a password manager, as the benefits outweigh these potential risks. The key is to choose your password management solution wisely.
It's also unwise to use ultra-weak passwords such as “12345678” or “password” because hackers can crack them in milliseconds, and nor should you re-use the same password over and over again. If a hacker has cracked one account, having only one or a handful of passwords will give them quick access to all of your online accounts in a matter of minutes.
Websites usually have password requirements and you may end up using the same highly secure password over and over again, just to comply with those security measures. But by doing so you expose yourself to hackers, who have their methods to get to their target(s). Why not use the highly secure password you invented to open a secure vault which hides all your other passwords? That's what password managers were designed to do.
This way users only need to remember just one password and can leave it to the service to easily comply with the security requirements of some sites with their in-built password generator, letting them store and retrieve any password whenever needed. Password managers will also let you change passwords with one click, share them with trusted members, and have all your passwords stored across all your devices.
What About Highly Sensitive Data?
As you start using a password manager service and discover the benefits it's easy to fall for the convenience it offers, but if used wisely these services can become a great utility in dealing with everyday tasks. Password managers give users the tools to create the best, most secure passwords for sensitive accounts such as online banking, PayPal, or Amazon.
The first step, however, is to pick the right password manager, and to figure that out you need to ask some key questions:
- Does it store passwords locally, or in the cloud?
- Is it cross-platform?
- Does it support biometrics?
- How does it protect user data? Do you understand the security measures they take?
- Is it easy to use?
Things can be a little easier for you, though, since we have already tested and reviewed a number of the best password managers out there, turning this into a much simpler decision.
Best Password Managers of 2019
|Editor's Choice 2019|