Everyone has heard the same cautionary tales about how to manage passwords, so much now that seeing another password article induces eye rolls, cringes, and unless the content is really interesting, the temptation to tune out. However, what if you could have the simplicity of not having to remember your passwords, easy login to all your accounts with a simple click, and know that your passwords are safe and secure? This sounds like it is impossible – but fear not! The reality is password managers are systems that allow you to use strong, unique passwords on each site requiring one. The way they work makes your life less cluttered because you no longer need to remember every password to every site.
The need for password managers comes from the recommendation that people should have unique passwords for every site. Having a single password or a few passwords for all that you do exposes you to hackers that can get lucky. Once they have your password, they have access to so much. That said, choosing the right password manager is not the easiest task, but there are many great ones out there. Use password manager reviews along with the specifications of each service to decide which one is best for your needs. Once you decide on a password manager, enjoy all the benefits of being able to visit your sites, feel protected, and at the same time never have to worry about remembering a password ever again.
Here are ways to use password managers and be secure:
No Reusing Passwords
As stated earlier, reusing a password is a great way to get in trouble. There are lots of password leaks even on sites that would be considered quite secure and reliable. These passwords open the door to your e-mail address, name, address, banking information, and so much more personal data. E-mail accounts are especially important to protect. If a hacker gets your e-mail account, they can get password resets sent to the compromised e-mail and cause lots of problems from there. That’s why it is imperative to use unique passwords.
The way password managers work is that you plug in your passwords to the password manager. This system does not just store your passwords with the sites, but it encrypts them as well. So, if someone gets into the password manager, all they see are an unintelligible series of letters, numbers, and symbols that mean nothing. Cracking this encryption is quite hard and time-consuming. Unless the hacker has specific motivation, they will move on to a softer target.
Setting Up Your Password Manager
Instead of using brain space to remember a password, you can devote that energy towards other pursuits. That being said, using a password manager is actually pretty easy. The way to get started is easy. First, visit the website as you would normally. However, don’t type your password into the site. You will type your master password into the password manager. That will input the login information in the appropriate fields on the website. Instead of thinking about your username and all that stuff, the password manager does the thinking for you.
Another great feature is if creating a new account, the password manager generates a secure password at random. Instead of memorizing a random string of letters and numbers, the password manager takes care of it and it fills in your information into the different slots on the web forms. Password managers make your life a lot more efficient.
Avoid Password Managers that are Browser Based
Every web browser has an integrated password manager and they all have their strengths, but the truth is, the dedicated password manager is a far superior entity. The first thing is Chrome and Explorer can’t store passwords locally – that is to say on your computer – in a form that is unencrypted. This means your passwords can get access unless you go through the trouble of encrypting this data on your hard drive.
Firefox is a little different thanks to their “master password” function. This encrypts and saves passwords while opening things up using that overarching master password. They are stored and encrypted on the computer. That said, this is not ideal because the Firefox system does not help you create the random passwords and it also does not work on the iOS devices. So, with all of these limitations, what you need to do is select a password manager that is specifically dedicated to this task.
Cloud Storage vs. Local Storage
There are advantages to both however there are also drawbacks, so when you choose to use a password manager, you need to think about how you will get onto your sites through different means. For example, your computer may have your password manager but if you are out on your phone, then you need to be sure you can sync with your password manager. That being said, there are some issues to think about with cloud storage as well, specifically that your passwords could get hacked if someone is able to get into the cloud. This is not something to chortle at, either. How many iPhones have been hacked over the years? Nearly every time it is via the iCloud. Bottom line, this is an area of personal preference.
Starting the Password Manager Experience
The first thing you will do is create a master password. This should be a unique password – not one that you are already using. Make sure you remember it or write it down somewhere secure. If you lose your master password and are not able to remember it, then you will not be able to view your saved passwords, and that makes things really difficult.
Once you have installed the password manager, there will be other things embedded in the program to help you make the most of your passwords. You will have weak passwords or duplicate passwords identified. At this point, you will go ahead and fix the passwords. After that, there is not much else to do. Some password managers also encrypt your banking information as well, so you can store credit cards and other personal information if need be. Thanks to these programs, it is easier than ever to keep your personal information that much more secure.
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