Does Using a Password Manager Help Keep You Safe Online?Sept. 17, 2021 (updated Jan. 20, 2023) / My Data Removal Staff
What are password managers?
While most people know that they shouldn’t use simple passwords or reuse the same password for multiple logins, the reality is that it can be really hard to keep track of passwords. As a result, many of us fall into the trap of bad password practices. Using unique and complicated passwords helps to protect our accounts, but not many of us know how to successfully manage these types of sophisticated passwords.
Two of the biggest barriers to creating complex, hard-to-crack passwords are that first, they are difficult to remember, and second, they are hard to keep track of. This is where a password manager comes in. A password manager is a software application that conveniently stores all of your login and password information for you in one secure place, making it a breeze to create and manage unique and complicated passwords for any site or service.
How do they work?
Most password managers can be installed as a browser plugin for all the major web browsers. They can also be installed as an app on your phone. You can log into your password manager through their website, through their browser add-on, and through their app on your mobile devices. You can even have your logins synced in the cloud. After you sign up for an account, you create a master username and password. Then you can add the username and password for any service or website you want (for example, Amazon, Facebook, etc.). Whenever you want to login to a site or account, you first visit the site, then sign in to your password manager, then it will autofill your login information for you. Once you have all your accounts added to your password manager, the only password you will need to remember is for your password manager. You don’t have to worry about the details; the password manager does it for you.
Are they safe?
Password managers are incredibly safe and secure. All of the legitimate password managers encrypt your login credentials with zero-knowledge encryption, which means that the password manager company can’t see the data. Only someone with the login and master password to your account (you) can get in. This is great because it means even a rogue employee can’t get at your passwords. Most password managers also let you set up multi factor authentication for your account. This would add another layer of security to your account so that even if someone did discover your master password, they still wouldn’t be able to access your account unless they also had access to your multi factor authentication tool (usually an authenticator app, SMS/email, or a hardware token like a YubiKey).
Are they expensive?
Most password managers have a free version that should meet your needs. They have premium paid options that add on extras, but for the average person, the extras aren’t necessary or worth the cost. Bottom line: any password manager is a good option and significantly better than nothing.
What password managers should I consider?
There are quite a few good password managers that offer great services. Here is a non-exhaustive list of reputable password managers: Bitwarden, 1Password, Zoho Vault, Dashlane, Keeper, RoboForm, StickyPassword, NordPass.