It is a fact that most people do not use a password manager. In fact, this is one of the most overlooked parts of the general internet-using public’s cybersecurity toolset. We have all heard of passwords and usernames, something that has been around since computers have existed, even before the internet itself.
Most of us will also know what antimalware and antivirus is, possibly even what a VPN or Virtual Private Network is, but most will not know about (or require) a password manager.
Passwords and usernames are a barrier between us and the data we wish to access on an operating system, even the operating system itself. Without usernames and passwords, everything could be accessed by anyone and it would be out in the open. This is especially dangerous on the modern internet today, which is essentially an ocean of dangers and cybercriminal sharks are always waiting to bite. A password manager is a very practical tool that not only helps you store your various passwords, but it reduces the chance of user error which could lead to a potential data breach and identity theft.
Password Security Knowledge
The majority of people use surprisingly weak, non-unique, and short passwords. Shockingly, millions of people today use ‘password’ as their password. Unbelievable as it is, it is true. Oftentimes, people think that the system itself is secure enough and will even re-use the same passwords across different apps and accounts. Or they may think, ‘Why would anyone hack me? I have nothing to hide or a large amount of money to be stolen.’ The truth is that your data always matters to cybercriminals.
Most people will also give out their usernames or passwords without any afterthought via social media or other communications channels. This is one of the big cybersecurity ‘no-nos’ that should be avoided at all costs because you can cause yourself a lot of trouble by doing this. Any computer device (or smartphone) can also be stolen, or spied on in public, revealing your password and sensitive information to others, not to mention if you are involved in a phishing scam you unknowingly give over your credentials to potential hackers.
Most of us have already been involved in big, sweeping ‘data scraping’ campaigns where our email address details have been leaked. A simple check on the ‘haveibeenpwned’ website tells all.
Why Do You Need a Password Manager?
A typical password manager is an application (storage vault) that stores your sensitive credentials and is unlocked itself with a master password. It will save you a lot of brainpower resources, given that you protect the master password with your life (definitely keep it written somewhere only you have access to it.)
So, we’ve covered that you should never use the same password for two different things. We’ve also covered that your passwords must not be short or simple, to avoid breaches. This is where a password manager comes in handy. A password manager can store all of your different passwords in a master vault, no matter how long, complex, or how many of them there are.
A good, premium password manager can also generate passwords for you that you otherwise would not be able to think of, as well as offer other features such as; automatically filling in login information so that you don’t have to, and keeping all of your stored passwords tightly encrypted.
A solid password manager will also be able to work across all of your devices, offer AES encryption, as well as multi-factor authentication for that added layer of security. Some password managers even offer protection against social engineering scams like phishing, by scanning the URL.
Take This Into Consideration
It is very important to remember that all password managers are not equal. Distinguishing between them is important to get you the best solution for your needs. In the password manager universe, there are password managers that are cloud-based, browser-based as well as those that are stand-alone.
Web browsers sometimes come with built-in password managers and are alright for the casual user (but one should be careful if you share your device with someone you do not trust.) For all other intents and purposes, it is always recommended to use a stand-alone specialized password manager.
The only downside of a stand-alone, dedicated app is that you have to remember the master password and keep it safe, otherwise all of your credentials will be lost. Password managers such as 1Password, LastPass, and Dashlane have all become quite popular today and trusted.