7 Benefits of Using a Password Manager at Work
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Do you use the same password for all your accounts? Is it the same one you came up with when your dad showed you how to create your first email account?
If so, it might be time to review your approach to online security. While a password isn’t everything, it’s the first line of defence when protecting your identity, bank account, assets, and anything else you might keep saved online. With an increasingly digital world comes more value attached to what we store online and, unfortunately, more advanced cyber attacks. A good approach to password generation and storage is a huge step in the right direction of protecting yourself online.
Before you start trying to work out a hundred new complex passwords, locking them in a safe, and burying it in a forest outside city limits, consider using a password manager.
In this blog post, we’ll go over the benefits of using a password manager, while helping you to choose the right one so you can use the internet safely and securely.
Benefits of using a password manager in a nutshell
- Password managers allow us to store our passwords in a vault protected by a master password
- Randomise your master password, remember it, and store it outside of your computer
- Password managers allow us to quickly access multiple accounts securely
- Change your passwords regularly if you wish, but it’s also safe to change only when prompted or when a breach has been detected
- Password managers allow easy and secure sharing of passwords, but you should do this with caution
- Choose the right password manager for your company to share passwords among team members
Master of all passwords
Password managers are like a vault for your passwords. They store each individual password you have for different sites and services you’ve created accounts for. Just like any vault, you’ll need a password to open the password manager.
Generating a master password
Most password managers will allow you to generate a random password. Your master password should meet a few criteria:
- Length: 12+ characters
- Content: include symbols (*& etc.), numbers, letters (both upper and lowercase)
- Uniqueness: don’t use your master password for any other accounts except your password manager login
- Random generation: avoid using phrases or personal details—random strings of characters are safest
Storing your master password
Once you’ve generated a secure and complex master password, you’ll need to store it. You should store your master password physically, offline, and protected. Here are a few storage methods for master passwords:
- In your house: write down by hand, laminate it or use clear tape to protect, store it in a physical vault or hide it in your room and don’t tell anyone where it is
- On your computer: type it into an offline notes program (Notepad, for example), store it in a cryptically named folder and hide the folder
- On your USB: you can also burn the password onto a CD, just make sure whatever external storage device you use is unmarked and ideally hidden somewhere safe
- In your head: it might be difficult, but try to learn your randomised master password. The safest place you can store it is as a thought in your head
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Generate stronger passwords
It’s not possible to remember 5 or 10 or even more passwords. We need password managers like we need address books: to maintain an important piece of information without having to remember it.
Password managers allow us to store our passwords safely and without having to remember them. They randomly generate difficult, complex passwords and store them, protected by a master password.
Gain simple and fast access to multiple accounts
Storing so much of our information and assets on our phones and computers means needing quick access to our passwords. The best way to do this and remain safe is with a password manager.
Password managers can be accessed as apps on your phone or desktop, and only require one password to access. Once in, you’ll merely need to copy and paste the individual password into the login details of whatever website you’re trying to access.
Easily change your passwords
Many apps and websites, especially ones through work, will request periodic changes of passwords. The thinking behind this is to stay ahead of any potential hackers repeatedly trying to break into your accounts. If they have only one password to figure out, it may only be a matter of time until they crack it.
How often should you change your passwords?
The general thinking behind how often you should change your passwords is every three months, however PC Mag contests this logic, claiming that frequent password changing is a hassle for something you might not need to do.
Rather than periodic changes, you should change your passwords if:
- There has been a detected security breach to any of your accounts
- You are prompted to by the service provider
- You have lost a physical copy of your saved passwords, or someone has seen them
- You work in a high security risk environment (e.g. finance or highly sort after assets)
- It’s a shared password (streaming accounts, family accounts)
Ultimately, however, if changing your passwords regularly gives you peace of mind, there’s no harm in doing it. And password managers make this easier than ever.
Autofill is what makes logging in and staying safe such a breeze when you have a password manager. Most password managers you attach to your browser will provide the option to autofill when you visit a website.
Share passwords securely
Sharing passwords is heavily cautioned against—and for good reason. Even if you’re sharing passwords with people you trust, the way they protect your password may be far less secure than your own, and can be stolen by someone without their knowledge. When you share a password you are entrusting sensitive information to someone whom you cannot keep an eye on all the time.
That said, sharing accounts among family members and close friends is possible with many different services, meaning there needs to be secure methods in place to do so.
Sharing passwords using a password manager
Fortunately, password managers offer the most secure and trustworthy ways to share passwords. Check first if the password manager you choose allows password sharing. You will be able to select certain passwords with other accounts and the password will then be protected from further sharing, because you will be notified if another device uses it.
Individual team vaults
Communication across teams is vital for productivity and company success. Part of this communication is the ability to store passwords used by different members in the team, and to notify all members when the password is changed.
Below are a few password managers which have secure team sharing features:
- KeePass: open-source and password-safe, KeePass works like a regular password vault with one master password that can be shared within the team.
- Passwork: employees can access passwords quickly, and Passwork has many different features for managers to keep track of password updates, changes, and uses closely
- Keeper: used by tech mega giants like Google, Amazon, and Samsung, Keeper’s credibility speaks for itself. Keeper can also be used across all devices: mobile, tablet, and desktop/laptop
Conclusion: the benefits of using a password manager
Not to be taken lightly, password protection is key to a safe and productive modern life. Fortunately password managers can take care of the complicated things and make sure you won’t have to remember lengthy, randomised passwords to all your different accounts. Always remember that while digital technology is great for convenience, it leaves us open to potentially devastating cyber attacks. Passwords are our first defence against those attacks, demonstrating one of the biggest benefits of using a password manager.
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Frequently asked questions about password managers
Password managers are like a vault for passwords. They store each individual password the user has for different sites and services for which they have created accounts. They are usually protected by a master password which provides access to all saved passwords.
A password manager is a more convenient way to create lengthy, randomised, and thus secure passwords, without having to remember them. While it is possible to do everything a password manager does without downloading one, it will be far less convenient without it.
The multitude of digital services and sensitive information being stored online has created a need for secure and convenient password managers. To comfortably and safely use the digital technology that exists today, we need services which will protect us as we do so.
Choosing a password manager comes down to a few things: price, needs, technical expertise, and preferences. Researching password managers will inform you about the existing password managers and whether or not they appeal to your needs as either an individual user or manager of a team who needs to supply access to several employees.
Given that they are software designed to keep users’ passwords safe, it’s fair to assume the vast majority of password managers are safe to use. That said, researching the best ones is important when adopting any software, especially one which is protecting such sensitive information as your passwords.