Having an online presence is becoming increasingly important as the digital age advances. If you are anywhere between the ages of 15 and 90 years old, chances are you do most of your banking activities online, report your taxes online, write and receive emails, make relationships and perhaps much more. Moreover, you use a different service platform for each of these activities, each requiring a different password. You have probably been so overwhelmed by all of these passwords that once in a while you feel the need to hit that "Forgot my password" button. Well, you are not alone. In fact, an entire industry has sprung up to help you manage your passwords better - they are called Password Managers, and they can be a tremendous help in keeping track of all those different combinations.
How does a Password Manager work?
A password manager is essentially a program you install on your desktop. The program comes with a browser extension, which records your passwords as you type them into the password login field. For example, you want to log in to your email account - you type in your email address, and then your password. The password manager now gives you notice that the password went into the database. Certain managers may even give you a warning if the password appears too weak, and give you the option to change it to something stronger.
Next time you want to log into your email account, you simply type in your email address, and the password manager will prompt you to type in your master password. This process will be the same procedure across all other online services. You are free to create different long and complicated combinations for your email address, your Facebook account and so on, but when you attempt to log in, you will only need the master password. Also, most password manager programs will automatically detect when you change your password, as well as when you sign up for a new service. The software will then offer to add this new password to the database.
The password management platform will let you save several accounts for the same website. This program is handy if you live in a house with several other people.
Making the password manager work for you
The first step when acquiring a password manager program is to open up the software and add all of your existing passwords to the database. The program will inform you if any of your passwords are too weak, or if there are any duplicates between your passwords. Always remember that one of the most important rules in password security is to have a unique password combination for every single service you use. This method will prevent you from getting all of your services hacked if one password gets compromised. Remove any duplicate passwords when prompted by the password manager.
Most password managers will offer to help with creating new unique passwords, or even generate a unique password. This feature is very helpful, as you do not even need to remember these random passwords - all you need to remember is your master password.
Other password managers will let you decide on the combination. If you choose to make your passwords, always keep in mind some of the most important rules in unique password creation: use at least 16 characters, upper case and lower case, use letters, numbers, and symbols.
If you are having trouble coming up with a unique word combination, consider writing down a sentence such as: "I would like to go on a vacation to The Bahamas in 2018!", Then take all of the initials, as well as the numbers and symbols and write them down. In this case, the result is "IwltgoavtTBi2018!". This combination is a very strong password, which lives up to all of the rules about unique password creation. Try it for yourself!
Other great features offered by some password managers include the two-step-verification process. This security feature means that when you enter your master password on any of your devices, the program will automatically send you an SMS verification code, which you then have to type in. Using this process, you ensure that no one can sign into any of your accounts, without also having access to your phone. Another option is to use the fingerprint authentication, which is available for devices such as smartphones.
One important thing to note when deciding on a password management software is whether the program can get synchronized across your other devices. Most programs will do this, but make completely sure, as it is pointless to have a password manager on your PC which does not sync with your iPhone.
Storing and replaying personal information
Some other smart features that appear in most password managers is the ability to auto-fill sign up forms. The programs essentially record all of your data, for your convenience, to be used when you complete sign up forms across different internet services. Just think about how much time you spend filling out forms and templates online. All of this can get completed with your information at a single click. Some password managers do this more accurately than others, but they all save you time.
Most password managers will also allow you to store your credit card information in the database. For some, this may seem a little intimidating. Why would we want to let them store our credit card information? But think about it - how many times are you asked by online vendors or e-commerce sites with little to no reputation if they can store your credit card information? Don't take the chance with sites that you do not trust. Find a password manager that you trust, and let them store your information safely.
The features in this article appear, to some degree, in most password management software. So what determines which software stands out from the rest and is worth paying a little extra money? The following is a breakdown of some of those advanced features you do not find in all password management programs:
This feature is a browser extension which can be used at any time but is particularly important to use when conducting financial transactions, visiting online banking sites and so on. It provides you with added security so you can feel comfortable transferring money online.
This feature allows you to securely share passwords with other users across different platforms, without making the password visible.
Digital Legacy is a feature that lets you pass on your information and passwords to a trusted friend or family member in the event of your death.
Do you need a password manager?
If you have more than a few online accounts, the answer is yes. The relevance and the importance of the internet is only going to increase in the future, and having a password manager lets you easily manage the security of every online presence you have. Passwords are your first and last line of defense against hackers, and other unwanted individuals obtaining access to your accounts. You should do everything you can to keep them out.
In the end, which password manager you choose will be up to you, but consider the information you have read in this article, and let it help you in the choice of the best platform for your needs.
Do you have experience with a particular password manager? Tell us about it in the comment section below!