Why Everyone Needs a Password Manager

Mary Lou Roberts talks data security...

A password manager not only protects passwords but it also makes the user’s life more convenient. Not only does it provide user names and passwords when they are needed, it can autofill forms, which is a huge timesaver.

There are frequent headlines asserting that password managers have been breached or have leaked data. Careful reading reveals that the issues are often highly technical and often have to do with poor maintenance of the computer being used. I know of no instance where stored customer passwords have been revealed.

PC Magazine lists the best password managers for 2019 as

  • Zoho
  • Keeper
  • Dashlane
  • Sticky Password
  • LastPass

All the major password managers offer free trials. If the user is disciplined, most of them offer indefinite use of the free version. Of course, they also offer tempting additional services to entice you to pay a small amount each year. Some security suites offer a free password manager and they are supposed to be pretty good. The few really free password managers tend to be a bit technical and off-putting. All browsers offer password managers and they are notoriously unsafe. Do not store your passwords in a browser.

In addition to safely storing passwords, password managers can create new, safer passwords. They will look something like BTAEWSbs7xQk – a password that’s almost impossible to hack. Of course, it’s equally impossible to remember but that’s ok because the password manager is going to fill it in automatically.

I’ve been using Dashline for awhile and it works well and rarely causes me any problem. I also get reasonable customer service when I need it. Perhaps that’s because I have the lowest tier of paid service, but it is worth the small monthly cost.

Pin the password manager to your start menu because you will need to sign in at the start of each session. If that sounds a little annoying, consider that otherwise anyone who got hold of your computer or its signin would have access to your passwords. Not what you want! And by the same token, even if your password manager offers the option of staying signed in for a week or two, don’t do it.

Choose a simple, memorable and absolutely unique password for the password manager. This is the one place where you simply must not reuse a password—remember that it’s protecting every other password you have. It needs to be both easy to remember and easy to type. Using a password manager on a laptop is pretty easy but using it on a mobile device may require that the password be typed in for every new access. That’s safer, if annoying. Even on a laptop a signin may be required to access important accounts like your bank account or a credit card if you choose to store a payment mechanism. Having a stored credit card number is almost too convenient—it’s very easy to buy things!

All the password managers have video tutorials but few of them make the helpful videos easy to find. Look on Help or Support pages or search YouTube. It’s a good way to start and a little effort will make life on the internet much safer and more convenient.

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