At first password managers seem like simple programs intended to make the lives of internet users easier by storing logins in an encrypted vault. However, the truth is that password managers are intricate programs that can not only handle those online accounts, but also any other data that is deemed to be sensitive, such as credit card information, software licenses, router settings, ID documents, and more.
Although password managers exist in various forms – as desktop programs, mobile apps or online vaults – there is one major thing that they all have in common: each password entered into the vault is encrypted with military-grade encryption, making them invisible to everyone but the program’s user and people with whom the user shares data via the program’s secure sharing interface. This makes password management programs much safer than the built-in solutions of web browsers, which almost never encrypt the data saved in their vaults. Additionally, the storage of many password managers can also be protected by two-factor authentication, which requires the program’s user to enter a secondary, temporary passcode after providing the master password, the virtual key to the software’s vault.
It’s worth noting, however, that this master password is actually the only password that you will have to remember, as everything else – including the autofilling of passwords into the appropriate login screen – is taken care of by the software. Not only are passwords automatically imported from each web browser via convenient extensions, but you’ll also be given the option to replace any weak original logins with more complex ones generated by the program’s built-in password generator. In addition to that, such software can monitor everything that is entered into its vault at all times and can even inform you if passwords are in need of changing. Many password managers also check the websites of your stored accounts on a regular basis and will send an alert should a security breach have occurred and recommend the necessary replacement of the potentially compromised password.
But to really enhance the convenience of use, the multi-faceted nature of password managers means that they can also work across multiple platforms as well. Firstly, all password managers come with a smartphone app that contains all the same features of the desktop version, alongside the option to unlock the vault with a PIN code or even a biometric authentication method like a fingerprint. Secondly, thanks to the cloud syncing function, all vaults belonging to the same subscription can be synced to ensure the same passwords and other credentials automatically match across the user’s various platforms. This is a huge asset should the program be installed on a new device, but it can also serve as a backup storage for passwords should the software – or even the hardware it is stored on – fail for some reason. And before you ask, yes, cloud syncing is perfectly safe, since any data uploaded to the cloud goes through the same encryption as everything else that enters the password manager’s vault.
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