Did you know that people who don’t use a password manager are three times more likely to experience identity theft than those who properly use one? According to security.org, one in every five internet users in the U.S. trusts a password manager to keep their information safe and secure. Are you one of them? You might be wondering: how do password managers work? Do they actually keep my data secure? If so, this blog is for you. Keep reading to learn how password managers protect you and your personal information from identity theft and cybercrime.
What exactly is a password manager?
We all know how difficult it is to remember a hundred different usernames and passwords. Fifty-three percent of people admit they reuse the same password for multiple accounts. However, this is dangerous, as it makes your accounts easy targets for hackers. That’s where password managers come into play.
Password managers encrypt and securely store passwords for every account you need to log in to. Some even generate secure passwords to save you the trouble of thinking of a good one every 90 days. To use a password manager, you’ll only have to remember one master password. When you go to log into your accounts, the password manager auto-fills your login information so you don’t have to remember complex passwords.
Password managers also allow you to:
- Keep track of a wide variety of different passwords across different accounts.
- Access your login credentials through biometric data such as fingerprint readers or facial recognition. In some cases, they might require a master password instead.
- Autofill your login information on all your favorite websites.
- Generate and manage highly secure passwords that are extremely difficult to crack.
- Encrypt your data for an added layer of security.
Password managers offer peace of mind and a sense of freedom while you browse the internet and use your favorite apps.
Why you should use a password manager
A strong password alone isn’t enough to protect yourself against hackers and scams. According to Microsoft 365, password managers can lower your chances of falling victim to a phishing attempt. You can help prevent ransomware attacks with a password manager that uses encryption and two-factor authentication.
One step you can take right away to boost security on your smart devices is setting up a password manager. By choosing complex passwords and storing them in your password manager, it will be much harder for cybercriminals to tap into your devices.
Password managers with family accounts offer some exciting features. Aside from helping you keep track of all your passwords, they let you share access to streaming services, photo-sharing sites, and countless other applications. And you can do all this without letting your family members even see your actual password!
So how do password managers work?
Now that you understand why you should be using a password manager, let’s talk about how they work. There are three different types of password managers: offline, online, and external.
Offline password managers
A local or offline password manager lets you store your passwords on your device. This means that in order to see your passwords, you need direct access to your device. Although this is the more secure option, it’s not very convenient, especially if you want to access accounts from more than one device. The biggest downside is if you lose your device, you also lose your passwords.
Online password managers
Online password managers are the most popular option. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access and sync your data from different devices. Since this type of manager relies on cloud storage, they offer less security. However, you can always opt for software with two-factor authentication.
Online password managers can also be browser-based. Browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all have a built-in option to keep your login credentials.
External password managers
The next password manager offers both security and convenience. With an external password manager, you’ll be able to keep your passwords locally while using the program on multiple devices. While you’re on the go, you’ll still be able to access your accounts. And if something goes wrong, your passwords will remain safe. Just make sure you don’t lose the device that you use to run your password manager.
Are password managers safe?
According to Lifewire, password managers are incredibly secure. Many of the most popular managers use “zero-knowledge” encryption. This prevents the provider of the password manager from accessing your data. To ensure the safety of your personal data, password managers use military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. As an added layer of protection, many also offer two-factor authentication.
Password managers can also help you create strong passwords that are unique and difficult for hackers to guess. The best passwords are at least 8 characters and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The tougher the password, the longer it will take a cybercriminal to compromise it.
Keep your passwords secure
Even with a password manager and strong passwords, you should take some additional steps to ensure your accounts remain safe and secure:
- Turn on two-factor authentication for your important services to add another layer of security.
- Be wary of other attempts to gain your personal information, like phishing or social engineering.
- Always log out of accounts if you use a shared computer and avoid logging in to important accounts when you’re on a public or shared WiFi connection.
- Make sure no one is watching over your shoulder as you enter your passwords (this is known as shoulder surfing).
Do you use a password manager to securely store your passwords? Visit the CenturyLink blog to learn more about keeping your personal information safe.