Even though Face ID and thumbprint scanning is on the rise, passwords are still the primary method of logging in to services, and the number of accounts that the average person uses passwords for is expected to grow to over 200 in 2020. But with the current guidelines of including letters, numbers and symbols, and not re-using passwords, it seems an impossible task to memorise each different login. This is where password managers come in.
Pros of password managers
They encourage unique passwords
When you have hundreds of different accounts to memorise, but want to stay safe by having complex passwords containing letters, numbers and symbols, it might be tempting to use a similar password for each account. This will make them easier to remember, but although it’s a secure password in itself, it comes with one flaw – if someone gets hold of one of your passwords, it wouldn’t be very difficult for them to get into your other accounts.
Password managers store all of your passwords for you, and let you easily copy them into the login form for each service. Therefore, you can make each password as unique as you like, without having to worry about memorising them. Password managers also often provide password generators, so you can create random, secure passwords and store them immediately.
They help to speed up your login process
Many password managers now include auto-fill passwords, so they will automatically insert the password into a login field from its list, based on the URL of the page. As well as making the login process quick and seamless, this function also reduces the potential vulnerability of having passwords stored on your clipboard.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that if someone has access to your computer and autofill is enabled, they’ll be able to log into any accounts that are set up with the password manager – so if you often have someone else using your device, it’s advised that you disable auto-login.
You can securely share passwords with others
If there’s someone else that you’d like to have access to a password – whether it’s a bank account login or just sharing a streaming service, some password managers will allow you to share specific passwords between accounts. The encryption will remain the same, and you can control the other person’s access as you like.
You can access your passwords on multiple devices
One of the most useful features of premium password managers is the ability to access your passwords on multiple devices. Just like an online email account, you can access the services through the web, log in, and see all of your stored passwords. This means that unlike, for instance, making a file containing your passwords, you can move between your desktop, mobile and laptop without needing to send files between devices.
Cons of password managers
‘One password to rule them all’
The big question is – are password managers safe? The main issue that arises with password managers is that at their core, you protect all of your passwords with one password. This presents the weakness that if that single password is breached, it’s like an open door to the rest of your passwords – regardless of how secure those all are.
However, there are steps you can take to ensure this doesn’t occur. Mainly, you should apply the guidelines for a secure password. And as you’re only required to memorise a single password, rather than 200, you should make this one the toughest to crack – make it longer than normal, and use all of the necessary rules. You can even have the password manager generate one for you if you like, and memorising just the one shouldn’t take long.
You should also enable two-factor authentication on your password manager, as this is the most sure-fire way of preventing unauthorised logins. This adds another layer of security to your login process, and more protection for your passwords.
It’s not a guarantee
While a password manager helps you make your accounts more secure, it’s not a sure-fire way of protecting your accounts. Cyber security is ever-changing, and if one of your passwords is included in a credentials leak, it will still be vulnerable no matter how complex it is. The way that password managers increase security is that if someone does get hold of one of your passwords, they won’t be able to access any other accounts.
It costs to get going
Most of the most popular password managers require you to pay a subscription fee to get full access to their features. You can use most of them for free, but you might miss out on some of the benefits such as cross-device use or cloud storage. While we feel like the cost’s worth it, if your previous solution costs nothing, it’s just an added expense.
All in all, we recommend using a password manager, especially if you have a lot of passwords to remember. As well as helping you create stronger and more unique passwords, they also come with loads of other helpful features. Password security is vital in the online world, and it shouldn’t come at the cost of convenience.