Is It Really Safe To Use a Password Manager?
So, how many passwords and usernames do you have? Do you store them all on your smartphone or computer? It seems safe and sensible, right? But it’s not as safe as you think. Writing them down and storing them unsecured on your personal devices naturally carries a real risk they’ll be stolen.
Time for a password manager. Modern, cloud-based password managers store your passwords securely, allowing you to access them anytime without having to write them down or store them yourself. You can choose a password manager that generates passwords for you, creating random passwords with complex characters that are very difficult for hackers to guess. (Not like your birthday password you always use!)
Online safety is important, so here’s more on why and how to make the move.
How password managers work
A password manager is a software service that stores your passwords for you, so you don’t have to remember them. Ask your internet service provider if they offer a password manager service. It’s usually very easy to sign up and then get the security you need.
Password managers are available with a variety of features that generally work across operating systems, browsers and apps. Features you want to look for include:
- Auto-generated highly secure passwords – The password manager will create your randomized strong passwords for you, then autofill them when you visit sites that require your password sign-in. The passwords created are protected by strong end-to-end encryption, so that they’re not accessible to anyone but you.
- One master single sign-in covers all your sites – To access your passwords, you’ll need to enter just one master password to log into the manager itself—which you’ll want to memorize—or use biometric authentication, like facial recognition or a fingerprint.
- Password storage in the cloud – This means your passwords are accessible on any device with internet access, including phones, computers and tablets, but still stored securely. A safe password manager won’t let someone access your passwords, even if your phone or computer is stolen.
Can password managers be hacked?
Because your password manager is going to store the credentials that let you access important online accounts, potentially including your email, banking services, shopping accounts, medical records and work accounts, it’s very important your password manager itself is secure.
Password manager companies can be hacked like other companies, and some password manager providers have experienced data breaches in the past. Do the research to choose the best password manager service for you. Check the reviews, and find out how the provider’s passwords are encrypted, which can keep them safe even if the provider is hacked.
Other security measures
Here are additional measures to keep in mind to maintain your online security:
- Keep your devices updated and secure. Passwords may be at risk if your computer or phone is infected with malware or compromised, even if your password manager itself is secure. Many password managers offer features to protect you to some extent, such as avoiding leaving passwords in your clipboard if they’re copied from the password manager to other apps.
- Follow directions from your password manager if any sites you use are breached. You may still need to change your password even if your password manager is secure. Some password managers will notify you if businesses or companies where you have accounts show up in publicly known data breaches. Make sure you’re still safe with your password manager.
- Make sure any new online accounts are registered with your password manager. Stay safe everywhere online and treat your password manager as one more important tool in your security toolkit.
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