What Are Password Managers?
One of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself online is to use a unique, strong password for every one of your accounts and apps. Unfortunately, it is most likely impossible for you to remember all your different passwords for all your different accounts. Reusing the same password for different accounts is dangerous, because once someone compromises your password, they can access all your accounts. A simple solution is to use a password manager. These are programs that securely store all your passwords, making it easy to have a different password for each account. Password managers make this simple, because instead of having to remember all your passwords, you only must remember the master password.
Password managers work by storing all your passwords in a database, which is sometimes called a vault. The password manager encrypts the vault’s contents and protects it with a master password that only you know. When you need to retrieve your passwords, such as to log in to your online bank or email, you simply type your master password into your password manager to unlock the vault. In many cases, the password manager will automatically retrieve your password and securely log in for you. This makes it simple to have hundreds of unique, strong passwords, since you do not have to remember them.
Most password managers include the ability to automatically synchronize your password vault’s contents across multiple devices that you authorize. This way, when you update a password on your laptop, those changes are synchronized to all your other devices.
When you first set up a password manager, you need to manually enter your logins and passwords. Afterwards, the password manager can detect when you’re attempting to register for a new online account or update the password for an existing account. This is possible because most password managers work hand-in-hand with your web browser. This integration also allows them to automatically log you into websites.
It’s critical that the master password you use to protect the password manager’s contents is very difficult for others to guess. In fact, we recommend you make your master password a passphrase, one of the strongest types of passwords possible. If your password manager supports two-step verification, use that for your master password.
Meanwhile, when trying to find the password manager that’s best for you, keep the following in mind:
• Your password manager should be simple for you to use. If you find the solution too complex to understand, find a different one that better fits your style and expertise.
• The password manager should work on all devices you need to use passwords on. It should also be easy to keep your passwords synchronized across all your devices.
• Use only well-known and trusted password managers. Be wary of products that have not been around for a long time or have little or no community feedback. Cyber criminals can create fake password managers to steal your information.
• Make sure whatever solution you choose, the vendor continues to actively update and patch the password manager, and be sure you are always using the latest version.
• The password manager should include the ability to automatically generate strong passwords for you and show you the strength of the passwords you’ve chosen.
• The password manager should give you the option of storing other sensitive data, such as the answers to your secret security questions, credit cards, or frequent flier numbers.