Keeping track of passwords is a consistent issue for individuals and businesses alike. How can you possibly keep track of a dozen unique, secure passwords? Many individuals and businesses are turning to password management apps.
Security is important and using the same password again and again for different sites is not an option given how susceptible we are to hacking. To be secure, passwords must be complex, using a combination of capital and lowercase letters, special characters and numbers. They can’t consist of information that is part of your identity, like a birthdate or an address. Oh, and preferably they shouldn’t be a recognizable word if you want them to truly be secure – more random is better when it comes to password protection. Not only does a secure password need to be all of those things, it also should be changed periodically in order to keep hackers out of your accounts. Lastly, you don’t want to keep all of your passwords physically written down somewhere together, lest a person with nefarious intent find your cheat sheet and gain unfettered access to sensitive information.
Given those parameters, it’s nearly impossible to manage passwords effectively without some support.
What password management apps do
Password managers offer a host of important boosts to your security. Whereas web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox have features that can save your passwords automatically, those features aren’t well encrypted enough to provide adequate peace of mind, even if they’re easy to use. Additionally, they don’t generate secure passwords for you, something that password management apps can do.
Login information is encrypted with password management tools, making things like credit card information much more difficult for hackers to get. High quality password managers often give you an actual ranking for your password, telling you how secure it is based on the latest information about password security. You don’t have to guess! These apps will often just tell you.
Here are four top password management tools that can make your life easier and your online information more secure.
Easy to use and highly encrypted, LastPass starts off on the right foot with a free basic service that will import all of your password details from your browser, including Firefox and Chrome. It’s easy to use from the get go and works will all major browsers, deleting the past saved information as you go. The free version includes additional features like credit monitoring, autofill and credit card saving features to make online shopping easier. You can use LastPass on multiple computers with a simple login to the app, assuming you’re away from your computer. The premium version allow you to transfer that cloud based info to your mobile devices as well.
It's worth noting that LastPass has had some security breaches in the recent past. The company has been working hard to stay on top of those issues, but nonetheless you may want to take that piece of the puzzle into consideration.
For something completely different, you can try KeePass. This downloadable, freesource software stores passwords right on your hard drive. Twofish encryption and the top-notch security of AES makes this a perfect choice if you’re concerned about maintaining your passwords in a secure way.
Since none of the information is stored in the cloud, you’ll have to download and install KeePass on multiple devices. However, it’s a simple process that can work with any operating system if you’re willing to be flexible with the type of KeePass that you download. For instance, you can use the standard KeePass for Windows systems, but you’ll need KeePassX for Linus and iOS. Auto-type functionality and a whole host of other features make KeePass an excellent choice for password management, even if it doesn’t offer some of the more sophisticated options like password generation and transfer.
For a $5/month fee you can use one of the most popular password management programs on the market today – 1Password. The strong password generation, username and password storage, secure sharing and digital wallet services are similar to other platforms like LastPass. What really sets 1Password apart is the “watchtower” services, which alerts you to website breaches that might affect your security. In addition, the interface is beautiful and intuitive with 1Password, an ease that’s well worth the premium fee.
Syncing across devices can be a bit of a challenge and it’s frustrating that you can’t try out the service for free initially, but overall you’ll find that 1Password gives you everything you need to have an easy and secure password protocol.
Two-factor authentication, coupled with an interface that even the most novice user can master within the first few minutes makes Dashlane a top password management tool. It’s got the smallest memory footprint of almost any password manager, one that seems to shrink with every update. That’s a major plus as this is something that you don’t want to see taking up a ton of your space.
Another fantastic feature of Dashlane is that you can choose to either have your passwords stored in a cloud service for syncing across devices or have them stick closer to home in an encrypted vault. Either way, you get some fantastic features even with the free version. You can even set the software to automatically reset passwords when the site that they’ve been used on has been compromised. The free and paid versions offer similar functionality, but this service is so good that you might consider the $40 annual fee.
How do you manage passwords? Does your business have a policy or a service to manage passwords? Tell us about it!