There’s no denying that looking after our safety online isn’t something that comes naturally to us. We tend not to create unbreakable passwords because 123456 is easier to remember.
We also have a knack for sharing our login credentials with others out of pure convenience, or even forgetting login details altogether, leading to more frequent password resets than we care to admit.
Even if you may forget them on a regular basis, our passwords are still the easiest way to safeguard our security online. So why have passwords also become the biggest threat to our online privacy as well?
We’ll be answering this question today, as well as explaining just why a good password manager is indispensable to your own personal and professional cybersecurity strategies.
What Is A Password Manager?
In the simplest terms, a password manager is an application that generates and stores all of your online login credentials.
Password managers are effectively designed to sync your passwords across devices, as well as auto-fill sign-in forms when logging into all your personal accounts.
For those concerned with security, you can be rest assured that password managers use encryption protocols to keep all of our confidential information secure.
By doing so, password managers effectively eliminate our Achilles’ heels with regards to cybersecurity in the modern day — weak or shared passwords.
What Makes Password Managers Safe?
There is an influx of password managers on the market today, including some password managers that come integrated in web browsers like Google Chrome.
With this abundance of choices at your disposal, it’s natural to want to know what to look for when selecting your own password manager.
A perfect password manager has these features that ensure the security of your information:
1. Military-Grade Encryption
The immediate goal of a password manager is to keep your passwords safe. So, it comes with powerful encryption protocols.
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a robust encryption method. A password manager uses E2EE so that only authorized recipients can decipher encrypted information.
E2EE is an essential feature of password managers, especially so if your password manager syncs data across different devices using cloud services. Passwords stored in the cloud are vulnerable to data breaches and hackers. But with E2EE, no third parties can decode and retrieve this sensitive information unless they have your master password. This means that your encrypted passwords remain secure even after a data breach.
AES-256 and Twofish are two encryption methods a password manager uses to secure data.
2. Multi-Factor Authentication
MFA or multi-factor authentication provides an extra level of protection. As its name would suggest, MFA works by requiring a second verification step before you can open your password manager.
You can put MFA in place using a mobile device, and most commonly through SMS, voice call, or an authenticator app.
With MFA in place, hackers can’t access your password manager even with a compromised master password. They can only open your password manager if they can also complete the MFA process.
3. Password Generator
Vulnerabilities in your login credentials are a hacker’s dream. And if they succeed, your life can become a nightmare. That’s why many password managers also boast sophisticated password generators.
A password generator does the hard work of creating a strong and unique password. Without best practices for password generation, you might be using passwords that cybercriminals can crack.
Weak passwords expose you to data breaches and identity theft. Simply put, using a weak password is a risk you simply cannot afford to take. Using passwords that can resist current password hacking methods would be best.
You can also take measures to intensify your password manager’s security, including:
- Installing an antivirus program. There are many free and excellent antivirus programs. These can detect malware, such as a keylogger that records your keystrokes.
- Using online security tools and best practices. Changing your passwords regularly and not sharing them can also strengthen your cybersecurity processes.
- Using a strong master password. The stronger the master password, the more secure your password manager.
Why Should You Use A Password Manager?
Internet security demands that you remember many login credentials for daily activities. Having different passwords for email, banking, and social media accounts is simply the best way to keep your personal information safe online.
Even so, managing countless passwords is undeniably just as much of a security risk as it is an annoyance. Luckily, a password manager can help. Here are some reasons you should use a password manager:
A Password Manager Prevents Credential Stuffing
About 66% of people use the same password across many accounts.
A data breach starts a domino effect because of password reuse. When hackers gain access to one password, they can then use it to log into other accounts on other platforms.
Hackers are then likely to check if they can use that credential to log into finance apps, social media, email accounts, and other accounts where they may be able to harvest more of your sensitive personal information.
A Password Manager Helps Thwart Phishing Attempts
Many password managers have autofill features. They automatically fill in your password on a saved website. This mechanism prevents phishing attacks.
The spoofed site will not match the URL in the password manager, so it will not know which password to supply.
Although a password manager is not the ideal solution against phishing attempts as it can’t stop phishing emails that contain malware, it can still be a significant part of a sophisticated anti-phishing strategy.
Password managers can actually warn you of any detected phishing attempt as it tries to appear, so you can leave the website immediately upon detection of any malicious or illegitimate activity.
A Password Manager Boosts Efficiency
Aside from keeping your login credentials safe, password managers can improve your efficiency when accessing the web. Saving passwords in a secure location means you will be less likely to forget or lose them.
Password managers can also help you save time by avoiding the need to reset your password as often.
Using a password manager can also prevent account lockouts, which often cause downtime and wasted hours in professional settings.
And as we touched upon earlier, a password manager can also produce strong and unique passwords in an instant. This feature speeds up the creation of new accounts, saving you time and effort.
Using the right password manager, you can strengthen the security of your passwords, helping to protect virtually all of your personal and professional accounts online.
A good password manager is expected to have features that focus on your privacy and security, like E2EE and MFA.
Feel free to use our deep-dive into password managers as a guide when selecting the ideal password manager for your personal and professional needs.