Remembering all the passwords you likely use on a daily basis has become nearly impossible. Not only do computer users have more accounts than ever, many websites and applications require strong and unique passwords to help ensure security.
Using a password manager is one solution for adding convenience to managing all of your account login information. They can store everything in one place, and online password managers make it easy to access from several devices you may use on a daily basis. (For example, if you have a work computer and then a personal laptop.)
Password managers make it easier to use strong passwords: those that are sufficiently random, long, and different for every one of your accounts. However, they also make it easier to lose all your passwords at once, or for attackers to steal all your passwords in one instant.
How Do Password Managers Work?
Password managers are programs that remember your online account login information for you, such as the email address or username and password you use for each account.
Password managers are designed to add security and convenience to accessing online accounts and information. Like a digital “vault”, a password manager is a software application that saves and organizes login credentials, so each time a user returns to a website, they can log in automatically without having to remember a username and password.This can be faster, more convenient, and more secure than writing passwords on paper or trying to remember all of them.
A password manager is easy to use: once you visit a website and enter your username and password, a password manager captures the information. With all account usernames and passwords saved in one “digital vault”, a master password is generated. When you return in the future and use the master password to access your digital vault, you can log back in automatically to your other accounts.
There are many password managers to choose from. There’s a password manager built into every major web browser today, and many stand-alone password managers that work across browsers.
Benefits of Password Managers
If you are comparing the option of managing your online passwords by writing them in a notebook or saving it in a spreadsheet versus using a password manager, the benefits of a password manager outweigh the liabilities.
By design, all password managers offer a way to organize your passwords in one place and keep them secured by saving them behind a layer of encryption. In addition, many password managers also use a master password. By typing in a master password to access the password manager vault, you create a second layer of security. The master password is not saved in the software.
Many password managers offer other additional features that provide benefits beyond storing your passwords in one location for convenience. For example, most offer two factor authentication. This is a feature that gives you a third layer of security. In combination with the master password, these two features make it nearly impossible for your data to be accessed and decrypted, even if the password manager company experienced a security breach.
If you use an online password manager, you have the benefit of being able to keep your passwords in one digital vault, while accessing that vault from multiple devices. So if you have a work computer and a home computer, or you wish to access accounts from a mobile device as well as your computer, a password manager makes it easy while staying secure.
Liabilities of Password Managers
A drawback of using a password manager is that by putting all your passwords in one virtual place, they’re in ONE place. That may be disconcerting, and if you’re new to password managers, you might be concerned about the risks of having all of your account information and other data in one location.
However, by design, all password managers are created to add a layer of security encryption to protect your account information. That means that if the password manager software became vulnerable to a malicious attack, even if data became exposed or compromised, it would still be encrypted.
If you use a master password and two-factor authentication to access your password manager account, then it’s virtually impossible for your data to be exposed if something were to happen to the password manager’s system.
Having all of your account information in one password manager does mean that if the password manager company goes out of business or stops updating, you will need to migrate your data to another password management application. But most of the password managers on the market today make it easy to import and export your account data with a backup file. You can save and export all your information (usually into a .csv or .xml format that is compatible with many applications) and import into another password manager.
All points considered, if you’re deciding whether to use a password manager or not, the best answer for you is to determine if you will actually use it. You can find many free password managers available to download and try. As you get used to it, the benefits of using a password manager for added online security verses the liabilities of weak passwords are huge.
LogMeOnce offers a free version you can get started with now. In a few steps, you can download and install it into your web browser. For personal or business use, find out if the features provide peace of mind as you begin to use it. Sign up for LogMeOnce and download here.