How Secure are Password Managers?

Password managers are basically software utilities that are designed to provide an added layer of security to your already secure passwords. They can be devices, apps, or cloud services that store your passwords in an encrypted vault, and are a must have in a world where data breaches and hacking attacks are on the rise.

Password managers are a dime a dozen, and the market is flooded with options – some that you should think twice about using. But the big question that seems to crop up among computer users interested in using a password storage app concerns how secure password managers are. And the short answer is – they do have their shortcomings, but using one shouldn’t be an option.

Key Features of Password Managers and Why You Should Use One?

In order to be secure a few years ago, passwords needed to be incomprehensible strings made of random symbols, characters, uppercase letters and numbers. But today and thanks to password managers, you don’t have to memorize or keep tabs on the many passwords you use for websites, apps, etc.

A 2015 report by password manager app Dashlane indicates that there are roughly 130 accounts in the U.S. registered to a single email address, and an average of 37 “forgot password” emails per inbox. So, unless you’re memorious, or would like to keep your passwords organized and secure, installing a password manager is a wise choice.

The best password managers do more than just store all your passwords in a digital safe, but also simplify your life with myriad key features such as autocompleting forms, and creating complex random passwords for the apps and sites you use, without you even knowing what they are. Other great features of password managers include:

Digital file storage

This feature allows you to store important account information such as credit card numbers, etc. for a streamlined and secure online shopping experience.

Two-factor authentication

This adds another security piece of information that will be required to complete the login process.

Fingerprint support

This allows you to sign into a password manager app on mobile devices with a touch of your finger.

Security alerts

Just like email account login security alerts, some password managers notify you if they think your online account has been compromised.

Sharing features

Allows you to securely share information with family and friends.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Password Manager

Results from a survey conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information indicate that over 70 percent of 189 participants experienced memory issues when trying to remember password uses. And what’s more intriguing is that most of these difficulties were experienced by individuals under the age of 64.

So, like it or not – passwords are here to stay, and even though there are emerging technologies that may replace them such as fingerprints and face-scanning technology, either one is perfect. With that said, since many of us will have to resort back to the trusty (but frustrating) password, its best to choose the best password manager to keep them secure.

Here are a few important factors to consider when choosing the best password manager.

Trustworthy

Password managers are susceptible to hacking attacks too, so choose one that has an AES-256 encryption. The best password managers don’t store your master password, so it is up to you remember it. referred to as “called Zero-Knowledge Protocol.” However, if the password manager does offer to store the master password, skip to the next option.

Look for a password manager that is compatible with several platforms – Windows, Apple, and Android devices. If the password manager is biometric friendly, then don’t think twice – just sign up for it! Other great features in a password manager include recognizing a trustworthy browser and auto-logout.

Autofill

This is a great feature to have in a password manager because it fills in the information for you automatically, and doesn’t expose you to keylogging malware.

Storage

Password managers either save data in the cloud, locally or both. Storing passwords in the cloud grants you access to your passwords on all your devices and locally just on the host computer. Given that you will need access to your passwords more when on the go than at home, password managers that offer both storage options are perhaps a better option.

How Secure are Password Managers?

If some of the biggest highly secure websites and apps in the world can be hacked, password managers are no exception. But having a password manager is better than not having one, especially if the one you choose generates a new password each time.

Using a single password for all your accounts – banks, social media, email, etc. is an easy way to remember it. But this also means that a hacker needs to get a hold of just that “1 password” to access all your accounts. So, what may seem easy for you, is a treat for potential hackers.

As long as you select a password manager that offers top-level encryption, and the aforementioned factors, your passwords should be safe from theft. What you should be careful about is the “master” password, because that will provide attackers with access to your account, and the information stored there.

In fact, recent research by the Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) shows that password managers aren’t safe when locked if the “master” password is stored carelessly, which in this case was in residing in the computer’s memory in a plain text readable format.

Final Thoughts

When all said and done, there is no foolproof way guaranteeing that your passwords aren’t hacked, but password managers can help keep your digital life secure, especially if you use a strong “master” password that’s near impossible to guess.

Vulnerabilities and weakness exist in all software and apps, but as long as you take the necessary precautions including keeping your password manager up to date, the risk of your passwords getting in the wrong hands is significantly reduced.

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