In one of the most massive public data breaches ever, over 87 gigabytes of personal data were leaked online; this information, titled “Collection #1” included 772,904,991 email addresses and 21,222,975 passwords. Per Troy Hunt, Collection #1 is comprised of numerous individual data breaches from thousands of sources, all compiled over the years. To find out if you have been affected by this breach, check out Troy Hunt’s website, here.
With this massive event, many (including myself) are scrambling to update their passwords and make the switch to a password manager. With the seemingly endless number of passwords we require for the many websites, apps, and programs we all use, it is quite simple to desire using a single, easily remembered password for everything or fail to retain our long list of login credentials. As you should know, using the same password for everything is highly discouraged. To help secure and remember your usernames and passwords, a password manager is the greatest tool for the job.
Password managers generally install as a browser plug-in which handles password capture and replay. In other words, password managers store numerous usernames and passwords and only require a single password to access them. Coupled with multi-factor authentication such as requiring a text-message or email verification, a password manager is an excellent way to both remember and safeguard the access to some of the most sensitive information sources you have. Password managers can also fill out forms automatically, can sync across macOS, Android, iOS, and Windows, and can even scan the Dark Web for compromised account info.
To clarify, when you log into a secure site, the manager will offer to save your credentials to be used at a later date. Password managers also assist in identifying weak passwords and even can create randomized passwords for you. Password managers have the benefit of being able to store other form-filling data such as your name, address, and phone number, thus reducing the length of time it takes to fill in online forms. While some websites offer to store your information for you, it is not recommended to have them do this due to not knowing how those websites secure or use their data.
Many password managers offer several advanced features as well. For example, when you are entering sensitive financial information, the password manager will secure the transmissions of this material. Furthermore, upon your death or incapacity, what happens to all of your passwords? With a password manager, you can create provisions for a sort of ‘digital legacy,’ creating a method to transfer your numerous logins to a trusted individual. With these many features, coupled with handy tools like informing you of insecure sites and suspicious emails, password managers are vital in today’s digital world.
Which Password Manager to Choose?
There are numerous password managers on the market, each having their strengths and weaknesses. To quickly summarize, I have included 3 of the highest-rated products out there.
Dashlane is a widely used password manager app and secure digital wallet. Available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, you can sync your data between an unlimited number of devices. Offering a free version and two tiers of paid-versions that are billed annually (Premium: $4.99/month, Premium Plus: $9.99/month), Dashlane offers VPN collection, Dark Web scans, and features a well designed and executed password management system.
Dashlane is one of the most expensive options, especially if you already have a VPN. Additionally, there is no special handling for nonstandard logins and offers minimal support for Internet Explorer.
I have used Keeper’s products before and have nothing but praise to give their password manager. As a leading secure password management solution for both individuals and businesses, Keeper provides impenetrable security for your passwords and digital assets. Keeper supports all popular platforms, has two-factor authentication, secure file storage, and can even retain a full history of your passwords. Keeper features many pricing models, but for non-professional needs, it costs $2.50/month for a single user and $5.00/month for up to 5 (family) users.
While I personally love Keeper, its web form filling is pretty limited. Also, there are no real automated password updates (have to do it yourself).
Finally, LastPass is a freemium password manager that stores encrypted passwords online. LastPass features a web interface and multiple plugins for browsers and apps. Also, many multifactor authentication choices are provided, along with zero advertisements and incredible customer support. There are various consumer pricing models of LastPass, including a free version, Premium (2$/month), and a Family plan for up to 6 users ($4/month). Additionally, there are plans for both teams and enterprises, ranging from $4-$6 per user/month, respectively.
Honestly, the free version offers pretty much everything the paid versions do; while this isn’t really a negative aspect concerning the free version, it does shed some light on the abilities of the paid versions.
Using a password manager is an excellent way to increase the security of your various accounts, help remember the massive list of username and password combinations that you use, as well as provide increased protection against data breaches, insecure sites, and further expand your ability to stay ahead of rising cybersecurity trends. While the prices of password managers might seem high, the potential costs of being hacked, having your identity stolen, or having your credentials leaked greatly outweigh the monthly charges for these services.
Hunt, Troy. (17 Jan 2019). Troy Hunt. The 773 Million Record “Collection #1” Data Breach. Retrieved from https://www.troyhunt.com/the-773-million-record-collection-1-data-reach/.
Dashlane. (2019). Never Forget Another Password. Retrieved from https://www.dashlane.com/.
Keeper. (2019). Keeper Password Manager & Digital Vault. Retrieved from https://keepersecurity.com/.
LastPass. (2019). Simplify Your Life. Retrieved from https://www.lastpass.com/.