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If you’re not sure why you might need a password manager, then I’d like to highlight a recent data breach where hundreds of millions of email addresses and passwords were exposed.
And by “exposed” I mean made available online for criminals to download and use.
The simple fact is that although you know you shouldn’t use the same password across multiple sites, you do it anyway. And after several years working in IT environments, I know that most people struggle to remember even a single password, never mind dozens of different passwords.
So what you need is a solution that helps you manage your passwords in a secure way.
And that is exactly what a password manager does.
At least 50% of companies won’t inform customers that their data was compromised in a cyber attack.
Why do you need a password manager?
In the earliest days of the Internet most people had an email account, and were members of a message board or two. They used the same password on all of them, and at the same time cyber crime wasn’t really a thing.
Times have changed though.
Now people have multiple social media accounts, probably multiple email addresses, and dozens of other sites to log in to. Then you have to factor in that they’re probably also using a mobile devices or tablet in addition to a desktop or laptop computer.
To make their lives as easy as possible, people use the same password for every online account they own.
Because they don’t want to waste time resetting passwords for accounts…after they’ve forgotten their password yet again. They know they’re taking a risk, but the logic is always “…well…who would want to hack my social media account?”
You need a password manager because if you don’t use one then it’s only a matter of time before one or more of your personal accounts gets hacked.
In fact, there’s a good chance that’s already happened, and you had no idea.
But your social network/email provider/online store said they have the best data security and encryption know to mankind?
Yeah, well here’s a list of recent data breaches, and the number of users who had their data stolen.
Recognize any of these names?
1. LinkedIn – 164 million
2. Adobe – 152 million
3. River City Media – 393 million
4. NetEase – 234 million
5. Exactis – 131 million
There are literally hundreds of other data breaches we could list here, and they’re only the ones that have been disclosed by the companies managing your data. The 0ther 50% of all data breaches stay out of the media, so users are never, ever aware their personally identifiable data has been stolen.
What does a password manager do?
The main reason people don’t like using multiple passwords is because they’ll forget them.
That’s understandable because it’s human nature, but it’s also not an excuse for potentially exposing your personal data to people who could (and probably will) use it for criminal acts.
A password manager provides you with a secure online location to store every single one of your passwords. Then the next time you go to login to your email or social media account, the password manager will automatically fill in the username and password field for you.
They also have lots of other neat features like generating secure passwords, reminding you that you’ve used the same password across multiple sites, and also providing you with a “digital vault” to store other sensitive information like credit card numbers, etc.
Are password managers safe?
That all depends on the password manager itself, but the leading ones are extremely secure. Products like LastPass and 1Password are 1000% trustworthy (not a typo – I meant 1000%)
There’s always the potential for some a$$hat to create a password manager that’s designed specifically to steal your personal information, which is why it’s important to do your research first.
Every product listed in this blog post is either one I use myself, I’ve used in the past, I’ve tested, or it’s an industry leader.
Just make sure to read real reviews on a variety of password managers before you commit to using one. Or ask a techy friend what they use, or the IT guy (or gal) in work what they’d recommend.
Analog vs. digital password managers
An analog password manager is one of the most overlooked ways of storing and managing your passwords. Even better is that this is solution works 100% offline.
So what is it?
Yes, writing down your passwords and storing them in a notebook is an option, but no it’s not a very good option. You could lose it, it could be stolen, it could catch fire or get water damaged.
But there’s one exception that you might need to make to using analog password storage.
You see, every password manager requires a master password to access it. If you forget this password you always have the option of resetting it, but I do have my master password written down.
My reasoning is that only a person who knows what that password is for can actually use it – I don’t use that phrase for any other account.
So although I use a digital password manager, I do keep an analog backup of that master password.
Apart from that I would strongly recommend that you do not (repeat: do not) keep all your passwords written in a notebook. There are just too many ways for your information to be compromised.
Which password manager is easiest to use?
This is really down to the end user. I’m a loyal fan of LastPass, but I don’t believe in forcing that idea on anyone else. I’d used AI Roboform for several years before switching to LastPass.
AI Roboform was the easiest solution for me to use for a long time, until I was introduced to LastPass.
What I’m saying here is that the idea of “easiest” will depend on what you consider to be easy. My definition is a simple one: It’s the password manager that works without me having to tweak, fiddle or poke at it.
I like things “that just work”, because that’s what I’m paying for. I prefer functionality over advanced features (which I’ll never use) any day of the week.
What is the best free password manager?
This is a tough question to answer because there are so many great optinos out there. Password managers are one of the few pieces of software/services you’ll find where you can get a working account (legally) without having to spend a cent.
- Lastpass – No limits on number of passwords stored
- Dashlane – free for up to 50 passwords
- Roboform – No limits on passwords stored
N.B. 1Password isn’t listed because it’s only free for 30 days, so that doesn’t really count as “free”.
What is the best cross-platform password manager
Most of you own a desktop computer or laptop, as well a smartphone, and possibly even a tablet. And you probably don’t consider yourself geeky or a nerd – they’re just tools you use as part of modern life.
But the fact that you probably use a mixture of platforms (except Mac users…because they’re Mac users) and operating systems means you’ll need a password manager that’s as at home on a Linux box as it is on a shiny new Mac.
Let’s take a look at which password manager is the most versatile, in terms of how many platforms it supports.
|Password manager||Desktop||Mobile||Web Browsers|
|Lastpass||Windows, Mac, Linux||Android and iOS||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera, Microsoft Surface RT|
|Dashlane||Windows, Mac, Linux||Android and iOS||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera|
|Roboform||Windows, Mac||Android and iOS||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera|
|1Password||Windows, Mac, Linux||Android and iOS||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera|
Want to check when and if any password you’ve ever used has been compromised? Check out the Pwned Passwords search feature from the helpful peoples at HaveIBeenPwned.