With the world going digital day by day, an increased need for using a password manager for accessing items, goods and services through websites and online platforms is becoming much more necessary than when the move started several years ago.
Now, almost every website requires some mode of identification and authentication called password. A password is simply a list of words, numbers or any form of characters that must be entered to gain entry to an account on a website. Websites such as Facebook, Gmail, and others require account owners to enter their passwords and sometimes verify them before they can gain entry. This method of account authentication is good even though it has its own disadvantage in the sense that once a password is lost, it may be quite difficult to regain it, especially if there is no provision to create a new one.
The problem with passwords
Unfortunately, even passwords can be easily cracked nowadays. Some hackers who specialize in doing this have a way of searching passwords to very important sites where people save money and useful messages just like the email accounts. Imagine a situation where the password of an email account is stolen; the owner no longer has privacy over it and may even lose ownership of it.
How to make Passwords more Secure
This is why it is necessary to form strong passwords. A strong password contains different characters. Instead of having something like “water”, “abcde” or “12345” as passwords, it would be better to have a combination of characters. Having words, letters, punctuations marks and other characters in a password will be more difficult for a hacker to identify. More so, passwords are not supposed to be the same for every account an individual has. It is better to have passwords for your different accounts to prevent a possible account theft.
The Challenge in creating strong passwords
Creating strong passwords is quite easy, and one can actually devise a means of creating very difficult-to-detect passwords by adding different symbols in addition to letters and numbers. Some may even type the space bar multiple times at different locations within a password to make it very secure. If this is done for several accounts without jotting them down and keeping them somewhere handy, it may be forgotten, and if this happens, a new set of problems may arise.
Unfortunately, some of the efforts people make to overcome this challenge are even more dangerous. For example, writing down the passwords and keeping them somewhere near the computer predisposes the person’s account to the chance of getting hacked. It appears therefore that none of these traditional ways is good enough to avoid password theft and insecurity. It would be better if people took advantage of password managers.
What is a password manager?
A password manager is a software or hardware application that is used to secure an entire list of passwords created. Usually, a very strong password is created for the application to store the other passwords so that once the user or owner logs in with the master password, he can have access to the others. The work involved in memorizing several passwords is reduced since, with this method, only a single password must be learned.
Benefits of Using a Password Manager
The first reason why you may consider a password manager is that it will help in keeping all your passwords safe. If you shy away from using a manager, the only other option you will be left with is forming weak passwords which can be easily detected and used to access your private life.
A password manager ensures that you have very strong passwords to protect any of your accounts. Since you only have to memorize a single password which serves as the master key, it becomes easier to manage your private life more effectively.
More so, with the use of a password manager, it is easier to log into any website you asked the manager to save passwords for. This also saves time for logging in especially when the password is a combination of several characters. Saving seconds on each login is beneficial especially if your work is like that of a marketing manager whose work is to reach out to people on various websites.
Furthermore, having a password manager makes you more productive since you can dedicate more of your brain power to other tasks.
Who Needs a Password Manager?
Everybody needs a password manager even though some professions tend to need it more than others. An average internet user probably has up to ten websites where he or she frequently visits while marketers have hundreds of them. Memorizing passwords is quite difficult and more so if there are other important tasks to be engaged in. Students also need password managers to avoid the task of trying to commit every password they have to their memory. Instead of doing so, they should rather be concerned with their academics and committing what they learn in the classroom to their memory.
Forms of Password Managers
Password managers come in different forms. Some are web based, cloud based and offline. Some are designed for desktop use only while some are installed on software.
The web-based forms enable users to access their passwords on the manager’s website. To save a new password, the user logs into the manager’s site with his master password and saves it there. He or she returns to it to recover the password whenever it is difficult to recall anyone.
The cloud-based password manager is also an online type though in this case, created passwords are stored on a server. The user or client is able to access the password with the aid of password management software issued by the manager.
The desktop (or laptop) type uses software to save passwords on the computer hard drive. The installation could be offline or cloud based.
The different forms of password managers have their strengths and weaknesses. This does not make any of them bad but rather, understanding their strengths and weaknesses should enable you to know the best type for you.
The desktop-based password manager may not be very safe if the desktop or password is shared with other people. In fact, it is more harmful to use this mode in places like cyber cafes and banks where computer systems are shared.
Again, having a master password and not securing it well predisposes one to lose several other accounts to hackers and crackers. This is even worse in cases where the password manager suggests a password phrase as a master password. If the master password is compromised, the result is obviously not going to be palatable.
Some web-based password managers have authorization problems. During some research, it was discovered that certain password managers had technical issues in differentiating authorization from authentication. This led to a compromise in the safety of passwords stored on their platform. Some password managers now ask their clients to log in through an iframe, and this is not very safe if the iframe is not from the manager.
Tips for Searching Password Managers
Based on the vulnerability of web-based password managers given above, it is safer to abstain from managers that use this mode completely. You should also check the possibility of generating your own master key. Password managers that give their clients the right to choose their master passwords are better because relying on some automated ones can put your security at a risk. It is better to settle for those that enable two-factor authentication too. The second authentication can be with a number sent to your phone as a text message each time you want to enter the account. This step poses a more difficult challenge for crackers and hackers.
Do not forget the power of checking reviews. Do an online search and Google any recent updates about the manager you are considering. There are some password managers that have consistently earned five stars from clients; you may want to check those ones first before trying out others.
When you are looking for a password manager, it will also make sense to consider those that have additional features in them. Apart from saving passwords for you, an extra advantage of using a good manager is to know how strong your passwords are. Some managers give users an idea of how safe their passwords are with a suggestion or guide on what to do to make it stronger and less susceptible to theft.
Finally, your pocket may also determine which manager you should go for. However, this should not be the major point to consider in your search for a good one. It is true that some services may be relatively cheaper but more satisfactory than others so do your search well and make sure you are spending your money on something valuable.
How it Feels to Use a Password Manager
Using a password manager creates comfort and peace of mind. To log into any website, all you need to do is first to sign into your manager’s account. Once you are logged into your password manager, go to the website you want to visit, and your credentials will be automatically filled. This means that you must have saved this information on your manager account, so the first thing to do when you have successfully installed one is to enter as many login details as possible on the first day. Start with the ones you visit more frequently and gradually enter the others as the day goes by.
Some Recommendable Password Managers
Several password managers exist but knowing the kind of feature you want should determine your final choice. However, it is important to know what other users think about certain managers and compare reviews especially when they are unbiased. Below is a list of some password managers that you may want to consider on your top list:
Dashlane: Dashlane is relatively new in the industry. However, the company must have done a very serious work before launching its services to the public as one can quickly figure out in the quality of work they do. Dashlane is compatible with Windows, OS X, iPhone, iPad, and Android. It has that feature that helps in checking the strength of your password and changing it immediately it suspects something wrong or different from the norm. In fact, it gives maximum protection.
Dashlane can be used on single devices for free while operating it on several devices requires upgrading to a premium account. Before upgrading, you can know what it is like having the premium account by taking advantage of the free trial.
With Dashlane, you can decide to save your credentials on your computer or in a cloud. The computer option should be more favorable if you don’t share it with anyone. Even if you decide to save it in their cloud, your account still has a high safety level since passwords are saved using the Advanced Encryption Standard.
LastPass is also compatible with various extensions, mobile, and desktop applications. It works on a variety of browsers, Windows and Android systems too. LastPass’s major strength is the two-factor authentication it provides so you are sure that no other person can tamper with your account. Since it uses a cloud storage system, all passwords are stored on their servers but in an encrypted mode.
In my opinion, KeePass is a better option to LastPass if you are not comfortable with the idea of saving your credentials in a cloud. KeePass allows users to save their details remotely on their computers, but this means that they have to sync their passwords with their device manually.
Cost of Password Managers
Getting a password manager is not very expensive and almost anyone can afford it. Some managers like 1Password cost $36 per year for a single user and $60 per year for up to five users. 1Password is also a reliable manager and has features similar to those of LastPass.