Keep Track of Secret Codes with a Password Manager
The demands for passwords in the digital realm have escalated in recent years. Not too long ago, most users probably only had a few places where a secure password was required. Now, that number has grown into double and even triple figures. Combine that situation with the fact that each site has unique password requirements, that passwords have grown from needing six to eight, 10 or even more characters (as well as a mix of letters, numbers and symbols), that passwords need to be constantly updated, and that workers are aging, and you have a perfect storm of poor password management.
Just as technology created the problem, so too does technology solve the problem: hence, the invention of the password manager. As with many things in the cyber world, this term, little known only a decade earlier, is now part of the lexicon.
What Is a Password Manager?
In its simplest form, a password manager keeps track of a person’s many digital passwords. Passwords can be stored in a person’s brain or written on a piece of paper secreted away in a desk drawer. The brain is the most secure manager, but, alas, it is prone to error. A piece of paper works fine, but it could be stolen, it is in need of steady revision, and it requires the individual entry of each password.
The new password managers take these simple ideas and build on them to offer a suite of features that provide security, convenience, speed and more. Today’s password managers have many useful features:
- Robust built-in security architecture
- Assistance with creating unique and secure passwords
- Ability to work across multiple digital platforms and devices
- Ability to change multiple passwords in one click
- Support of two-factor authentication
- Potential for sync and backup
A few managers have free options, which may not offer all the features of a paid version. Most brands support password creation, organization and the ability to store and remember credit card payment information. In most cases, one master password provides access to the manager’s functions.
What Are the Benefits of a Password Manager?
A password manager has two main purposes: convenience and security. Because users may not use a website for weeks, months or even years, it is of course difficult to remember a password generated a long time ago. Having all passwords in one place makes it easy for users to access passwords that are infrequently used. It prevents the need for going through the extra process of getting a new password. Moreover, the right password manager can be installed on mobile devices, tablets, PCs, smart devices and more. For many people, a password manager simplifies their life in powerful ways.
This is just the beginning. In many cases, the password manager can recognize the password needed and populate the pertinent boxes. This autofill feature comes with vital security encryption included. Furthermore, by delegating the task of remembering passwords to the manager, the user only has to keep track of the main password.
The security benefits of a password manager are an essential feature of the software. On the basic level, using this tool encourages a person to create more passwords, instead of using the same password over and over. In many cases, a password manager automatically creates super-strong passwords, a first line of defense against cyber criminals. It also may track user actions and provide alerts if the password has been used without permission. Some managers check for leaked passwords on sites visited by hackers.
What Are the Best Features?
As might be expected, password managers continue to offer innovations. The latest versions have features unknown to the cyber world just a year or two ago. Some of the newest highlights of password managers include the following:
- Expanded Browser Compatibility: No one wants to be limited to using just one or two browsers. The current managers continue to expand the browsers that work in concert with the manager.
- Two-Factor Authentication: As the criminals increase their hacking capabilities, two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of protection. A password manager that supports this technology protects the user at an advanced level.
- Increased Reporting: Current versions feature expanded reporting, allowing users to keep track of work records and bookmark valuable sites.
- Military Security Standards: The higher level of security in a password manager, the better the protection. AES256 encryption is a world leader and is used by military branches.
In the fluid world of cybersecurity, the landscape continually changes. As with phones and other devices, it pays to keep abreast of the latest innovations in password managers.
What Should Users Look For?
Customers looking for the right password manager have a lot of choices. Brands such as Dashlane, Sticky Password, RoboForm and many others deliver convenience and security. Buyers should consider the features of each manager and may want to concentrate on a few key points:
- Complete access to all digital devices
- The highest level of security and encryption
- Free trials, discounts and guarantees
- Fast and easy login procedures
When investigating options, users should look into the details of each password manager brand. Features such as autofill, cloud sync and backup, biometrics and priority support may vary somewhat from brand to brand.
For those who struggle with keeping track of the proliferation of passwords, a password manager provides a valuable service. It simplifies the process of remembering, organizing, creating and changing passwords. Password managers may not be completely immune to security breaches, but they offer significant security features among their other advantages.