It’s one thing to understand that being lazy about protecting our passwords can lead to serious problems like identity theft; it’s another thing to actually do something about it.
While we know that we should all be using complicated, unique passwords and impossible-to-remember PIN numbers for everything, studies show that most of us are failing to do so. Understandably, we don’t want the headaches and frustration of not being able to remember or find our login credentials.
With the advent of the password manager, those old excuses are no long valid.
What are Password Managers?
There are several different password managers available, most serving the same basic need – to store and manage all PIN, password, passcode and login information through one central database or encrypted file.
Individual users and enterprise alike have begun adopting password manager software as a tool to store, protect and organize sensitive password information. One of the biggest benefits to using a password manager is that you can use all unique, complex passwords and you don’t have to worry about remembering them (or remembering where you saved them).
Which Password Manager is Right for You?
A password manager can be helpful for just about anyone with a computer or smartphone. Deciding which one to use depends on how many passwords and PIN codes you use, how complex your login and security measures are, and how many advanced features you need. There are many applications out there; below are some of the more widely used web-based options:
- Passpack: Passpack is a password manager that offers five plans for users to choose from. These range from the free version geared toward “everyday people” to the “bigger business” version which costs $40/month. All versions include the Passpack It! Button, which lets users login to websites with just one click.
- Kapersky Password Manager: With a robust set of features, Kapersky offers random password generation, virtual keyboard, automatic log-in completion for longer web forms and a portable version for use on flash drives. Single user management is available for $24.95.
- 1Password: 1Password is a leading option, known for a clean interface and several extra features – such as Dropbox sync, a password generator and attachment storage. While it is a powerful application, the $50 price tag will be excessive for those who just need basic storage.
- Steganos LockNote: A free, open source application that is compatible with most versions of Windows, Locknote is a great option for users needing simple, reliable encryption of password information. Locknote offers an interface that functions and looks much like an encrypted version of Microsoft’s Notepad.
- LastPass: LastPass is a cheap and easy password manager that is available as a free basic version and as a $1/month premium version which includes mobile. LastPass doesn’t come with a broad set of features or a customizable interface, but for the majority of users it will provide the needed capabilities.
- Keepass: KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish). For more information, see the features page.
A Step in the Right Direction
While using a password manager is a step toward stronger account protection, they do not guarantee complete security. As critics of password managers have pointed out, these applications create a system in which there may be one point of failure. In other words, if the password manager isn’t accessible for whatever reason and your password and PIN code information has not been backed up somewhere else, you may be locked out of your accounts.
In addition to utilizing a password manager, it is always a good idea to regularly change all passwords, use a multi-step authentication whenever possible, and to keep passwords stored locally as well as with the password manager. With every additional step you take toward improving your account security, you are lessening the odds that you will be a victim of identity theft.
Have you had experience using any password managers? Which ones did you like or dislike?