an introduction to password managers

Explainers

Should You Use a Password Manager?

January 28th, 2020

If you’re new to password managers, an introduction is in order. A password manager is an application that you use to automatically generate unique passwords for each of your accounts. You provide security for all of these passwords by entering a single master password into the privacy manager itself.

Why are password managers useful? Think of all the apps, online stores, banks, social media accounts you regularly use. There are a lot, right? Each requires a password, and that’s a lot to remember and keep track of. Your digital security hinges on the strength of your password-based protection. Get a little lazy and use the same password for multiple accounts and you’re now vulnerable to hackers.

How They Work to Bolster Digital Security

Think of a password manager as a vault in which you store all the passwords you use on a regular basis. In order to open the vault to access your accounts, you only have to keep track of a single password. Since this password will be so important, it’s a good idea to make it as strong as possible. This includes using a combination of upper and lower case characters plus symbols and numbers. One method to create a password that’s difficult to guess is to think of a memorable phrase and then use the first letter of each word to make your password. For example, “my dog enjoys running along the shore” gives you “mderats,” which is not a word that hackers could employ using a standard attack taking words from the dictionary.

Look For High Ratings

You might not have much in your budget for home computer security, leading you to wonder if free password managers are trustworthy. As long as you go with a highly rated brand name with an excellent reputation in the marketplace, you should be able to find one that offers a free version, perhaps restricting the number of passwords you can store in the vault. 

The most important features people should look for when choosing a password manager include ease of use (if it’s not user-friendly, you’ll be discouraged to work with it consistently), a friendly user interface (the menu options and commands should be straightforward and positioned right where you need them). It’s also a good idea to read reviews of the password manager to see how often its developers update their software. You want to use software that is regularly upgraded for improved security.

If you’re not inclined to keep track of a bunch of different passwords for your various accounts, it makes sense to try using a password manager. Just remember to check reviews with trusted publications to see how their experts compare different password managers. If you’re in a hurry, you could begin by asking your more technically savvy friends or relatives or even a coworker about what tool they use to manage passwords.

. . .