We have all been lectured regarding the risks of using the same password over and over for our data. Corporate data, personal data. With the number of recent data hacks, there is a huge chance your passwords are on the dark web and available for sale. If you, like most people, have too many accounts to continually check, recheck, and change your passwords then the Password Managers’ time has come.
The Job of a Password Manager
According to HubSpot, “a password manager can generate, retrieve, and keep track of long, super-random passwords across all your accounts for you — passwords that would take hackers a lifetime to crack. Password managers also secure critical online information like credit card numbers, three-digit CVV codes, home addresses, and answers to security questions. This information is right at your fingertips, making form-filling faster and easier than ever.”
Examples of Password Managers
If you are not familiar with password managers, you may be surprised at the number of them available. Here is a short list of some of the more popular managers and the browsers they support courtesy of HubSpot:
|Sticky Password||Sticky Password||Sticky Password||Sticky Password|
|Firefox Password Manager||Firefox Password Manager|
Some of these password managers offer a free trial or other specials. For example, 1Password offers a 14-day trial with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Keeper has a special 30% off and includes 2FA. One of the most popular, RoboForm, advertises an exclusive offer of $1.16 per month, 24/7 support, and 2FA. This is not an endorsement of any particular password manager, it is simply supplying necessary information for a better understanding of what they do and if one is right for you.
Obviously, it will take some time and research before you can identify which password manager will best suit your needs. If you choose one and later decide it was a mistake, most services will allow you to switch managers and take your data with you.
If you are contemplating using a password manager, take the time to think about how you will use it. If it is to protect your organization which runs solely on PCs, then you may want to look for one that will handle just Edge or Chrome, or Firefox. If, however, your needs extend beyond a PC, it would behoove you to consider a manager that will work across any browser, iOS, Windows, and Android. You should also check to see if they will work on a PC, laptop, or mobile unit.
If you are interested in a personal password manager, there are many that will do more than just sync all your passwords under one master password. Some will include credit card information to enable you to make purchases online much quicker and easier. Others will attach documents, images, and PDFs. There a few that allow you to give temporary access to employees, coworkers, or family members.
Pros and Cons of Using a Password Manager
PROS: If you only use the internet for email and maybe Facebook, you don’t need a password manager. If however, you use multiple systems, shop online at a variety of stores, spend time tweeting, visit TikTok and Snapchat, you may very well benefit from using one.
When you think of all the sign-ins you use at work, you may decide a password manager could help there, as well. When an employee resigns or is fired, a password manager could come to the rescue when attempting to access the former employee’s data.
There are also password managers that do more than just keep your passwords safe. Some will handle all your login credentials and autofill forms. They may also sync your data across any browser, iOS, Windows, or Android. The best password managers have browser extensions for every popular browser that can operate independently of a desktop app. After all, syncing between desktop and mobile devices is one of the best things about a password manager.
One last feature that needs to be mentioned in the pros is secure storage offered through the password manager. It is not designed to replace cloud storage, but it can provide storage for important documents that are in an encrypted state.
CONS: As handy as password managers are, there is a dark side as well. Undoubtedly, they make is easier to use strong passwords and they remember all your passwords for you. They also make it easier to lose all your passwords at once, or for an attacker to steal all your passwords in an instant (https://tinyurl.com/pf3hw3xh).
Another risk of using a password manager is that once you enter all your passwords into the manager it creates a master password that protects all the ones you entered. If you lose or forget that master password, you could lose everything.
If you unknowingly use your password manager on a device that contains malware, the malware will be able to record all the passwords it “protects.”
A word to the wise from Stuart Schechter – password managers can only protect you from attacks on re-used passwords if you are willing to let them replace your old passwords with randomly generated unique passwords.
Choosing the Right One for You
Once you have done your research and decided that using a password manager is a good idea for your business and/or personal accounts, you need to determine which one of the many services will work best for you. And this is the hard part.
To make your decision a little bit easier, consider the following questions as to how they relate to your needs.
- Will it generate passwords for you and identify re-used passwords?
- If I lose or forget the master password, will I be able to recover my data?
- Is the service easy to use?
- On which devices should you install the password manager?
- Will the password manager sync across devices?
- Are extra features worth paying a premium or can a free service provide the features you need?
If you still have trouble deciding on the appropriate password manager for you or your company, the folks at Workforce IT Jacksonville can offer some insight and advice.