And The Password Is (Part 3)...

Duane Cary, Senior Trainer, LexisNexis:

 

 And The Password Is Part 3...

LastPass

Dashlane

1Password

Password Boss

NordPass

 

 In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I discussed the importance of passwords and the different types available. In this final part, I am going to examine password managers.

Chances are, you have a lot of different accounts on many different websites. And if you are practicing good security, that means you have dozens, if not hundreds, of different passwords to remember. That is where a password manager comes into play. Instead of you remembering all those different security combinations, let a password manager do it for you!

Many of you probably are already using a password manager and weren’t even aware of it. When you surf to a website and enter your username and password, you are more than likely prompted if you want to save your login. When you do, that is an example of a password manager.

But your web browser is a very basic password manager. Your passwords are stored unencrypted; anyone who opens your browser can open your list of passwords and see your login information to the different sites you visit on a regular basis. So ideally, you are looking for software that can do much more than what your average web browser can provide.

You are generally looking for three things in password manager software:

  • Ability to store passwords in encrypted form
    • By encrypting your password, that prevents hackers from logging in and just seeing the password in plain text.   The hacker would need a key to be able to decode your data and see your password.   It would take decades or centuries for a hacker to get your information without that key, and you would be the only one with it.
  • Generate random passwords for you
    • Coming up with various different passwords can be a pain. Password managers can auto generate a secure password for you, saving you the time and effort to come up with one on your own that is not just a variation of a password you have used in the past
  • Access passwords across multiple computers
    • Most password managers will allow you to access your passwords regardless of what computer you are using. Your data is store on their servers in the cloud. This option is perfectly safe, but if you prefer to keep everything local, there are password managers that give you that option.

 

So how does a password manager work? It encrypts and stores all your data i.e. user id, passwords, credit card information, and CVV codes, and automatically plugs them into websites for you. All you need to remember is one password to access the password manager. That’s right, not dozens of different passwords of all shapes and sizes, but one master password that gives you access to your vault of unique and encrypted password data. But be forewarned: if you lose your master password, you lose access to all your passwords. That is why password managers can be very secure. You are the only one with access to the master password. Not even the password manager software has access to it. So make sure you write it down and store it somewhere safe!

Setting up the software is straightforward. For some of the applications, you just need to download and install the software and add an extension to your browser. Some only require the browser extension. And others include a downloadable app so you can also access your passwords from your phone or tablet.

Then, all you do is either import your existing usernames and passwords, enter that data in manually, or just revisit your websites and allow the management software to grab the data the next time you log in.

Most password manager products will allow you to try them out first so you can decide which one is best for you. Above, I have linked to some of the more popular products in the password manager world, but don’t hesitate to check out others you may have heard of from family or friends. There is generally a cost associated with using this software, though some are free with some limited functionality.

In our ever-increasing world of technology, you should be aware of how to protect yourself online. I hope this series of blogs gave you some ideas on how to do that. But don’t hesitate to do more research yourself to see how you can make yourself as secure as possible.