Updated: May 7, 2020
The Internet has entered as an earthquake in our lives, we have several accounts in all kinds of social networks, among other services, for this reason, a good option is to use a password manager. But what is a password manager?
Password managers are applications that are dedicated to storing all kinds of passwords in an encrypted database. But that's not all they can do.
You can create passwords that no one can guess
This type of administrator can generate all kinds of strong passwords for you. These passwords can be customized to include both lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and all kinds of weird characters that combine to create meaningless words (or string of characters), and in this way, increase the strength of the password.
What if I'm not on my computer?
Nowadays, many of these softwares connect to a cloud so you can have access to all accounts on your devices without problems. This means that you can save all your different and complicated passwords on your computer and when you access a website on your phone for example, your credentials are saved there.
Wait, if my passwords are saved in my device, isn't it really dangerous if I lose said device?
It's fair you would think so, but just like you did, the developers of the software thought the same. That's why they most times include some kind of fail safe for this. It can be a double authentication or the ability to wipe your data, or just to deny access to the information on certain devices (such as the one who was lost/stolen.
How is this any different from saving passwords on my browser or web page?
It could be hard to explain that without going into too much detail on how that works, but basically, the password manager doesn't have to keep your passwords on your device's hard drive. A hacker with access to your computer (we talk more about this in other posts), could just get the file (created by your browser) holding all the passwords you decided to save and that would be it. It's not that simple if youhave a password manager.
Main thing to look for in a password manager
Having a good password manager is important, but not all managers are good for your purpose, here are some characteristics you want to look for:
Online and offline access: not all managers are synchronized with the cloud. So if the administrator is online, the encryption will be synchronized with the cloud, but if it is offline, the passwords will be managed from a local hard drive. You should make sure the manager has this option if you work on multiple devices.
Authentication in two steps: at the moment this is very important, it's an extra security measure, that makes sure you are who you say you are. unless someone knows your password AND passes the two step authentication, they can't get to your information.
Integration with browsers: it is important to minimize interaction with all kinds of passwords and automate access points as much as possible.
Automatic password update: This relates to the last one. Basically the manager, being in your browser, updates whenever you create a new password or change an existing one. That saves you time and makes sure you're never locked out because you forgot to update your info on the manager.
Automatic security alerts: some managers warn you about the possibility that the client has suffered an attack on the passwords of each account.
Mobile Support: Like we mentioned before, it's the ability to use the same software both on the cellphone and on your computer, and even if you don't plan on sharing the passwords with your mobile device, it's better to have it, that way in the future, if needed, you won't have to change managers.
Password Generator: Above we dicussed this a little bit. it's a very useful tool that creates long and secure passwords with no meaning that can't be guessed. This greatly increases your protection.
One-time passwords: this helps you use the manager in any type of system, even those you don't own or whose security you don't trust. This feature will allow you to access once and after that the password you used no longer works. An example of a pratical application of the feature is when you need to access your accounts in someone else's computer. Since you don't know hom secure the system is and you don't want to risk it memorazing your master password and it getting stolen afterwards, you can use your one time password (OTP) and if it gets stolen later it's of no use to anyone.
Share passwords: some password managers allow you to share the necessary passwords. This is useful in work settings and companies who might need certain employees to acsess information without knowing what it is. In theory, you can give the access to a bank account to one of your employees without giving him the actual codes, since the manager auto fills the login form.
To sum up, there aren't many downsides to having a password manager, and they make your online life a little easier and a lot more secure.
Check out some of our other tips on internet security and software recommendations here.