A password manager is a software application aimed at helping users to access, manage, and retrieve passwords to all of their password-protected accounts. The application stores all passwords and often other sensitive information in an encrypted format that can only be accessed via a master password. That way, users can easily access their data while preventing identity theft and hacker attacks.
Modern password managers usually offer additional features such as auto-fill, password generator, and other advanced password management features in order to help users streamline other account-related pesky tasks. For example, an auto-fill feature saves users the process of manually entering the same data each time while a password generator saves users the trouble of choosing a strong password that complies with password-generation guidelines.
Almost every website nowadays requires users to create an account and enter a secret password. A Dashlane analysis from 2015 found that the average user has 90 online accounts. While one may be tempted to use the same password to all of them, this strategy is far from advised. You could compare using the same password over and over again to having a skeleton key. Once a copy is obtained, all of your assets are at risk of being compromised, identity theft, and credit card fraud, to name just a few. And, with a substantially growing number of password leaks, even on the biggest websites, it’s always best to generate a different password per account.
Yet, there’s more to password creation than just being unique: each unique password needs to also be difficult to guess. In fact, this criterion is so crucial that most data-sensitive websites alarm users when their password is considered weak, pleading them to opt for a better, “stronger” character combination.
So, how does one generate, manage, and remember dozens and dozens of different passwords? The most common solution is through a password manager. With a password manager, you will only be required to remember one password—the password to the password manager itself. Once granted access, you can generate strong passwords with one click, keep track of all your accounts, and safeguard your most important information.
When looking for a password manager online, one can easily be overwhelmed with the immense selection. There are myriad of applications out there, each claims to be the best-of-breed. While a password manager’s goal is always to protect data, different services and products vary in the way they encrypt information, type of storage they use, and additional features they offer. All of the password managers reviewed by us (See ‘Best Password Manager 2019’) fit both home users and small business. Each includes key features that pertain to security as well as usability.
For example, two-factor authentication is a security feature designed to provide an additional layer of protection, while multiple form-filling identities and the ability to import passwords from browsers both concern ease-of-use and time-saving. To fully benefit from the autofill feature as well as protect users from keylogging malware, a password manager should also offer browser extensions for all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari.