We live in a world of constantly-evolving cyber security threats. This is why many people worry about the use of a new digital product, especially when it deals with sensitive personal data.
The password security management system is one such tool. While some consider it an absolute essential, others can’t even fathom relying on such software.
Is a password manager a good idea and if so, which product on the market offers the best features and the highest level of security?
What Does a Password Manager Do?
A password manager is a software product that comes with a pretty self-explanatory name.
This software application stores and manages information about the different kinds of passwords you use to access your various accounts. The password data is stored in an encrypted format to boost its security. A master password needs to be utilized with the system in order to access the information that it contains.
Typically, password managers work as browser plugins. They handle the passwords used to access one’s email, online banking account, social media profiles and all other online accounts that necessitate authentication.
The password management product market is anticipated to grow rapidly in the period from 2019 to 2024.
The compound annual growth rate for that period is set at 19 percent and several factors will contribute to the growth. For a start, the number of people and institutions understanding the importance of cyber security will grow.
People will start using more complex passwords in the years to come, following online security guidelines. Having multiple such passwords to deal with on a daily basis will make many seek an effective and safe management solution.
Password overload is becoming a real thing as we’re increasingly becoming dependent on online communication, interactions, shopping and banking.
In a 2018 survey, it became clear that 70 percent of people have more than 10 password-protected accounts. For 14 percent of the respondents, that number exceeded 25 accounts.
Best online security practices suggest the use of different passwords for different accounts. Needless to say, this makes it nearly impossible for people to remember all of their authentication data.
Do You Need a Password Management System?
Unless you have stellar photographic memory, the answer to that question is yes.
Password management systems bring various important benefits to the table:
You don’t have to remember all of the passwords you use, the management system will be responsible for that.
2. Ability to use stronger passwords
Since you no longer have to remember your password, you can opt for longer, stronger and more challenging letter/number/symbol combos. These will protect your online accounts in a much better way.
3. Unique password for each account
Password leaks are a real threat and if you use the same password across accounts, you risk having all of your information compromised in the event of a breach. A password management system enables you to add a unique password to every single account.
4. Shared account management
Some of the better solutions on the market simplify the management of shared accounts. One individual will have administrative access, deciding how much access other people should have to the account.
Free password management systems do a good job but they lack some advanced functionalities. Paid solutions are much more complex and they don’t cost an awful lot.
On the downside, a password management system could be:
- Lacking support for certain online portals or devices
- Completely disastrous if you lose the master password (recovery could be impossible)
- A single point of failure – if somebody gets hold of the master password, all your accounts are compromised
- Incapable of eliminating more serious security threats that don’t stem from the password
To address some of the shortcomings mentioned above, you’ll have to spend enough time on identifying the password management system that’s best suited to your needs.
Some of the Best Password Managers Out There
Let’s take a look at some of the best password management solutions that the market has to offer.
According to many cyber security experts, Dashlane is the best paid password management solution out there right now.
It’s compatible with most platforms – Windows, Android and iOS (for both iPads and iPhones). Extensions are also available for most of the popular browser varieties out there.
The most prominent Dashlane characteristics include browser password importing, two-factor authentication and secure sharing. Dashlane can fill out web forms and you can create multiple form-filling identities.
This password management system offers patented security infrastructure and real-time alerts about threats. Dashlane is currently available for 3.33 dollars per month for a premium account.
As far as free products go, LastPass is the top choice for many.
The cloud-based password manager is applicable to mobile apps ad it also has a desktop solution. The password information is stored on the LastPass servers. There it is available in encrypted form and decryption occurs solely locally.
A few noteworthy characteristics include two-factor authentication, password information importing from a browser, browser menu of logins and the ability to fill out form automatically (multiple identity creation is supported).
A few other password management systems worth paying attention to include Zoho Vault(an online password manager for corporate teams), Password Boss(a powerful security and password management platform that costs three dollars per user per month but has a free trial) and Bitwarden(a free app for personal use that also comes with a premium enterprise solution).
As you can see, password management systems come in all shapes and sizes. Some are recognized for specialized features and functionalities that result in an overall security enhancement.
Take your time to explore password managers and compare them side by side. Many websites simplify the process of drawing a comparison between different software products. Think about the features you need and the biggest security challenges you are facing in order to pick the app or plugin bound to give you user-friendliness and an optimal outcome.
Eric Silver at CloudWedge.com is a veteran technology blogger and startup enthusiast who has been covering the global technology scene since the most advanced phones were still folding in half.