Internet passwords are a way of life now. The question is, how are you going to live with them? Do you need a password manager?
You know you can’t just make “password” your password. You need to mix it up with letters, numbers, and symbols. And have a unique one for each site you visit. Otherwise, you’re a target for hackers out there.
Long, varied passwords are, of course, better for your cyber security. On the downside, they’re a little harder to remember, even if you write them down on paper or keep them in your notes on your phone.
Password managers, on the other hand, are there to make this whole thing just a little bit (ok, a lot) easier.
What is a Password Manager?
A password manager (sometimes called a password vault) is a program or service, that stores your passwords in an encrypted digital locker on your computer or cloud.
The best ones keep login information, such as usernames and passwords, for your social media accounts, email, work or school accounts, and more.
Using one allows you to create long, complex passwords without worrying about how you’ll remember each of them.
Are Password Managers Secure?
Most cyber security specialists agree that password managers are the safest way to store your passwords. They are considered secure because they are encrypted using industry-standard encryption, like Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
AES 256-bit is a standard cipher (i.e., a system for encrypting and deciphering data) used by many password manager services. It’s so secure that even the US military uses it. It would take many decades to break this cipher so that a forceful cyberattack would have almost a zero percent chance of success.
Password managers also provide the site and password breach alerts, security questions and answers, and two-factor or multi-factor authentication—some even provide facial and fingerprint recognition.
Despite the security measures, only about 1 out of 4 Americans use one.
If you’re a pros and cons person here is some help:
- Convenient. One big pro is that you don’t need to remember passwords or track them on paper or on your phone. Most password manager programs and services are also easy to use and add or update passwords. Also, many password managers work across linked devices.
- Password security. Password managers allow you to use solid and complex passwords of varying letters, numbers, and symbols. Complex passwords make your accounts significantly more secure than if you had a password named after your dog, for instance.
- Different passwords. Password managers also make it much easier to create a different password for every account to protect you and your cyberspace further.
- Sharing. In the case of serious injury or death, password managers allow you to share your password manager information with a trusted person, saving them from the trouble of having to guess your password for every account.
- Single sign-on. The most significant flaw of using a password manager is single sign-on. Single sign-on password managers can lead to compromising multiple accounts because the manager is accessible through single authentication. However, you can further protect your password manager by using multi-factor authentication.
- Forgetting your password manager password. If you happen to forget your password to the password manager itself, then you may be unable to access the rest of your passwords.
- Price. Although some password managers are free, the more secure, comprehensive ones usually charge a fee.
Price is always a consideration, but what is the security of your information worth to you? Password managers are clearly a very secure way to protect your passwords and are much easier and safer than remembering or keeping track of them all on your own.
If you are using one, use multi-factor authentication so your password manager is more secure, and all your passwords are safe. And obviously, remember your password manager password.
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