How a Password Manager Can Help You Store and Secure Your Passwords More Effectively
The world is filled to the brim with technology. From smartphones to laptops, almost everyone has a presence in this technologically encompassed society we have built for ourselves. Our day-to-day consists of constantly logging in and out of devices, applications, and websites. While cumbersome, it’s necessary to do our jobs and move through the persistently growing tasks that require such a process. However, the sheer number of individual accounts tied to these responsibilities is becoming more and more overwhelming with each passing day. How are we expected to remember our credentials for every account we use? Better yet, how do we retain this information securely? Well, that’s where password managers come into play.
What is a Password Manager
Password managers have been available for quite some time but are just now becoming ubiquitous in the workplace. Before the adoption of this solution, end users would commonly use a Microsoft Excel datasheet or hand-written notes to store their passwords. And while an Excel document can be password protected and a notebook locked behind a cabinet, this was far from secure. That is why developers created the password manager. A noteworthy response to an inevitable problem that we are all reminded of daily; our brains can only retain so much information, especially if it’s information that’s accessed infrequently. Password managers are a simple way to securely store your usernames and passwords. Whether it’s a service that you sign into regularly or a random website that you have to Google just to remember the name, all the information is stored under a single pane of glass.
How Password Managers Work
The way password managers work is simple. First, you need to install the password manager software. This may be through a browser extension or a mobile/desktop application. Credentials used to authenticate against the various websites and services you use are tied to a master account associated with the password manager. This master account is the only username and password that you must remember. Once you’re signed into this account, websites that you visit and applications that you use will talk to the password manager, automatically filling in your saved credentials. If the information is not yet saved within the backend of your account, it will notify you to either add a new account or update an existing account with current information. It’s as simple as that.
Other Password Manager Features
Password managers aren’t only a place to store your credentials. Top of the line offerings from the most popular branded solutions usually offer a robust feature set that includes various other perks. A popular example of this would be LastPass. LastPass is a very common password management solution that offers more than just storing credentials. It includes a dark web monitoring tool that checks your usernames and passwords against the latest data breaches and warns you when your passwords should be changed due to potential compromise. They also offer other features such as secure storage of bank accounts and credit card information which provides a simple way to pay online without having to pull out your wallet. Finally, they include a way to generate a random but secure password for all your accounts. This entices the consumer to stop reusing passwords across different services and aids in preventing compromise by brute force attacks.
However, you may think to yourself, what’s the catch? How can my usernames and passwords be stored under one roof and still be secure? Well, it’s completely reasonable to have these doubts. As a cybersecurity professional, I was skeptical myself. In the world of information assurance, we implement policies, processes, and solutions within our environments based on a risk management strategy. Within this strategy, we ask ourselves if the potential loss from a risk outweighs the benefit of using the solution in question. In this case, I objectively believe it does, although there’s a catch.
Password Manager Security Best Practices
For the benefit to outweigh the risk, this type of tool requires maintenance. It’s the user’s responsibility to routinely check and ensure the data they provide is secured. Begin by initially logging into all the different websites and services that you use. Update your passwords with a strong and randomly generated phrase created by the manager itself. Ensure no single password is being reused across another site. Check your account information against their compromise monitoring service. If something is flagged, change it as soon as possible. Most importantly, ensure that you lock down the master account with an industry standard passphrase and configure multi-factor authentication. If someone were to compromise the master account, they will have the keys to the castle.
There are a wide variety of answers when it comes to password management and storage. No single solution fits everyone’s needs. However, if you haven’t had the chance to use one yourself, I highly suggest you give a password manager a try and see just how convenient such a simple product can be in your everyday workflow.
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