Passwords – we use them to secure every bit of our online identity. They protect important emails, valuable work files, and sensitive financial information.
So why don’t people take them seriously at all?
According to data, around 86% of passwords are just terrible.
Is Using Strong Passwords Really That Hard?
Well, here’s just a quick list of what defines a strong password:
- Has at least 15 characters, preferably more.
- Mixes up numbers, symbols, and lowercase and uppercase letters.
- Doesn’t contain any dictionary words. If it does, they have to be reversed.
- Doesn’t use obvious substitutions (like $ instead of S).
- Contains space characters (if possible).
- Acronyms for long sentences are used.
Basically, the end result would be a password that looks like this: YhtgtSbi23$%sdLE.
It’s not hard to see why some people would rather just use a password like “abc123” – it’s way easier to remember it.
And keep in mind – you need to use different passwords for each account if you really want to be safe.
So what’s the option then?
Writing down all your passwords in a notebook, and keeping it in a safe?
A bit extreme, but it can work.
Or you can just do a simpler thing – use a password manager to save time and effort.
What Is a Password Manager & Why Do You Need One?
Simply put, a password manager is software that allows you to store and save all your passwords in one place. The manager encrypts them, and you use a master password to access them when you need to.
Of course, you are going to need to write down the master password, and keep it in a safe place. But at least it’s just one password instead of dozens of passwords.
While that quick definition makes it obvious why a password manager is useful, you might not be 100% convinced yet. If that’s the case, take a look at these benefits:
- Password Managers Streamline the Login Process
They generally have what is known as auto-fill features. Instead of having to type in your password and username, the login fields are automatically filled in with the correct info by the password manager.
Some managers go the extra mile and use auto-login, making things even simpler for you.
- Password Managers Prevent Password-Reuse Attacks
If you use the same password for all accounts (like 64% of people do), it’s enough for a hacker to steal it to get access to every single bit of your sensitive info.
But a password manager makes it easy to generate and store different passwords that are all strong.
So, even if someone manages to steal one password, they can’t do so much damage with it anymore.
- Password Managers Can Stop Phishing Attacks
Sometimes, cybercriminals set up fake websites that try to imitate legit ones. If you type any info on the website, the hacker who runs it will steal it.
Unfortunately, the web is full of phishing websites, with around 1.4 million of them being launched each month.
The good news is that password managers can help. They use URL bindings that associate a website’s URL with a specific login credential. If the URL isn’t correct, the auto-fill/auto-login process doesn’t take place, and you might even get a visual hint letting you know the URL is fake.
- Password Managers Protect Against Keyloggers
A keylogger is basically malware placed on a device that logs all your keystrokes. Cybercriminals use keyloggers to steal sensitive information from people by seeing what they type when they access their social media accounts, bank accounts, and email accounts.
Normally, a hacker has to have direct access to your device to place a keylogger on it. Still, if they trick you into installing malicious files on your computer, they could infect it with keyloggers.
Also, some cybercriminals target public computers – like the ones in coffee shops, libraries, or hotels.
Well, a password manager keeps you safe from keyloggers with auto-fill and auto-login features. Since you don’t need to actually type anything, you’re in the clear.
How Do You Know You Found the Right Password Manager?
Well, that really depends on your preferences.
However, a good password manager needs to meet a few requirements.
For starters, it needs to have auto-fill features. Even though I said a password manager makes logging in more secure by automatically handling it for you, not every service does that.
What’s more, a manager that allows you to store additional data on top of passwords is always nice. I’m talking about stuff like payment information, usernames, important work files, family-related and personal stuff – that kind of info.
Also, it helps if the password manager has a password generator – whether it’s built-in or just on their website. That takes a lot of stress off of you because you no longer have to come up with complex passwords every single time you need to change them. A username generator alongside it is always a bonus.
Multifactor authentication is a must too. It’s a huge security boost, and no password manager is really complete without it.
Oh, and obviously – cross-platform compatibility is necessary. You likely use more devices alongside your computer to access the web, so you should secure your passwords across all of them.
Lastly, an open-source password manager is always a nice sign. It’s not mandatory to use one, of course, but it might give you more peace of mind knowing the devs behind the service are transparent about how the service works.
The Bottom Line
Remembering different passwords for hundreds of sites is impossible. That’s just the plain truth.
So, you should always use a password manager. It safely stores all your login credentials in one place, and you only need to remember one master password – that’s it.
Be sure to follow the link I left if you want to get a password manager – it leads to a clear overview of the best options on the market.