What makes a good password?
The answer here could be subjective but there are a few things that all the experts agree on. One of those things is that multi-factored authentication (MFA) works and that you should use it if you can.
There are many sites and services where it is not enabled or available and a good old-fashioned password is all that stands between your account and the bad guys. What is the recommended best practice in these scenarios? You guessed it:
When people are forced to create and use long, complex, and frequently changing passwords, it poses a challenge. We tend to inherently reuse the same passwords among different websites or use only slightly different passwords, which create an easy-to-decipher pattern.
A password manager mitigates this risk by creating, storing and using long and complex (or at least very different) passwords for you.
In this post, let’s compare the pros and cons of password managers.
Easy to create long, unique passwords.
Well, they certainly work as advertised and do a good job with this. The only disadvantage to this is that some websites don’t allow long, unique passwords. Or even symbols! If given a choice, I will stay away from these websites.
Auto-type / Auto-login
That’s right. Another advantage is that many password managers have built-in features to type the passwords or form-fill automatically. I prefer using the auto-type style rather than a browser extension for form filling but that’s another post.
Support for multiple devices
A lot of password managers (especially of the cloud-based variety) can be used across multiple devices (Android, Windows Desktop, Mac, Linux). Support varies from product to product so be sure to do your research before choosing a solution that works for you.
Sharing with family members (Never share work accounts, even with your spouse)
While a very dark “pro”, in the event of your death you can simplify your partner or family’s life greatly by giving them access to all of your online accounts. If you don’t want them to have access to all your accounts, you can opt to share specific accounts.
All your passwords will be different
Never reuse the same password for different sites/services. Ever.
Can store more than passwords
Credit card information, insurance details, notes. Almost anything you need to keep secret can be stored in this encrypted vault.
A single point of failure
Don’t lose your master password. Or give it away. It is also important to use a quite long and complex password as it acts as the gatekeeper for all your other passwords and information.
Support across different browsers
As mentioned before, this varies from product to product. While the top 3 are generally supported, if you use a less popular browser, or your company doesn’t allow browser extensions you may run into issues.
What are my choices?
There are many. Some top password managers store your credentials locally, while others rely on cloud services for storage and synchronization. Others take a hybrid approach. Some of the options using local storage (such as KeePass and 1Password) still support synchronization through Dropbox or other storage services.
Deciding which password manager is best for you will come down to features and ease of use, as well as to whether you’re comfortable using a cloud-based password manager that stores your passwords on the Internet.
Some of the more popular and reputable ones you can check out are Lastpass, 1Password, Dashlane, KeeWeb and KeePass.
Any of these options are better than trying to remember many complicated passwords for the many complicated sites in our very complicated online lives these days. Or, *gasp*, reusing the same password. Go forth and make smart decisions young padawan.