Security exists to make sure everything that we hold valuable in life is safe, secure and protected from those with malicious intent. Life has become a long list of passwords and combinations. From locker combinations to PIN codes for ATM, cellphone access to passwords for websites, social media accounts and email. It pays to err on the side of caution but having too many passwords eventually ends up compromising convenience for security.
The solution? Use a Password Manager program.
The Realities of Living in a Password-Heavy World
Here are a few interesting statistics from the June 2015 TeleSign Consumer Account Security Report on digital security concerns and practices which surveyed more than 2,000 people from the United States and the United Kingdom:
- 75% of respondents use the same password for multiple accounts.
- 40% of those surveyed reported that they had been hacked or notified their personal information had been compromised.
- 21% have not changed their password for the past 10 years.
- 47% use passwords that are at least 5 years old.
Of those who participated in the TeleSign study, 80% shared their concern about being hacked. Yet many of them still continue with their irresponsible practices regarding online security.
Like most consumers, we don’t believe we are vulnerable to crime until we finally become victims. By then, it could be too late. We end up losing more than we gained by following lackadaisical practices.
This kind of disengaged mentality is the reason why the 5 most popular passwords in 2014 were:
You could be shaking or scratching your head; or maybe even both, but the truth is people did not take password security seriously. When making a choice between security and convenience, they chose the latter.
The fact that 40% claimed they were hacked was proof they should have taken the effort to come up with more challenging and complex passwords.
Imagine the consequences if your email password was stolen. The cyber criminal could easily reset several of your online accounts including PayPal.
But coming up with strong passwords for different purposes is easier said than done. Every program has its own parameters for strength. Some require a minimum of 10 characters. Others demand that the password contain a number, a capitalized letter and a sign.
Gone are the days when post-its on a computer screen would be enough to keep track of your passwords. With the Internet, you need to be more creative with your password and strategic when it comes to securing your codes from the bad guys.
The good news is that with a Password Manager, you no longer have to compromise convenience for additional security.
What is a Password Manager?
Password managers work by storing all of your log-in information for the websites and accounts you use. It makes logging in easier because the Password Manager does it for you automatically.
The Password Manager will encrypt your database file for all your passwords with a Master Key. In effect, the Master Key is the Master Password which you will have to come up with and is the only one you have to remember.
How Does a Password Manager Work?
Let’s say you want to log in to your Facebook account. When you use a Password Manager, you don’t have to type in your details onto the Facebook web page. Instead you type in the Master Password onto the Password Manager which fills in the correct details so you can access Facebook.
You no longer have to spend time thinking of your user name or combination of letters, numbers and signs for your password. Can you imagine not being able to log in to your Skype account because you forgot the password and the client is already online?
There are many great useful online services that we sign up with so we can make life and work easier. But the truth is, how many of these services do we actually use on a daily basis?
It is easy to forget passwords for websites that we hardly use. The same goes for emails. It is not uncommon for people to have multiple email accounts.
Another benefit of having a Password Manager is that it can create passwords for you.
Whether it is for one of your current online accounts or a new one, the Password Manager can generate a strong one for you and there is no need to extinguish brain cells trying to remember the combination. The Password Manager will do it for you.
Which Type of Password Manager Should You Use?
Password managers are nothing new. The rise in demand for these programs was commensurate with the growth in popularity of the Internet. As more computers were integrated into systems that used Internet- based processes, it became more important to find ways to manage passwords and secure networks.
There are different types of password managers that you can consider. The one you choose should have the features that would greatly benefit your business. Here are some of the password managers you can find in the market today:
1. Bonus-Feature Password Manager:
Some operating systems, browsers and antivirus software offer password managers as a bonus feature or added value for choosing their program.
Examples would include those included in Chrome, Firefox and the Norton 360 comprehensive security suite.
If you feel your type of business does not need additional security and you are confident of what these password managers can do, go ahead and utilize the service.
2. Standalone Password Manager:
These are password manager programs that are not associated with other software. KeePass and Aurora are good examples.
They provide strong encryption and Aurora has other features such as password generation, automatic form-filling and the ability to import passwords to a readable file.
This type of password manager is ideal if you use only one device for all of your computing work.
3. Password Managers with Embedded Security Hardware:
You will need hardware in order to get this password manager to save and encrypt data.
A good example would be Lenovo’s T-Series ThinkPad laptops that have an Embedded Security System mounted as a chipset on its motherboard. Only someone with the Master Password, fingerprint reader or both can access your data.
You should have this type of password manager if you work in a shared space environment where the risk of hacking is very high.
4. Web-Based Password Manager:
This is one of the latest types of password managers. It is a web-based application so you can use it from any Internet-connected device.
Examples would be RoboForm and PasswordSafe which have the same features as Aurora.
If your network consists of PC’s, laptops and tablets, this is the Password Manager for you because it can help you retrieve your passwords from all connected devices.
Risks of Using Password Managers and How to Avoid Them
Using a Password Manager will certainly make work more efficient. Instead of spending time and energy trying to remember passwords and usernames, the Password Manager will do the work for you.
But there are very real risks when entrusting your passwords to a singular system. If you had all of your valuables stored inside your home, what do you think would happen if a thief found your master key?
Here are a few tips on how to keep your Master Password secure regardless of the type of Password Manager program you are using:
- Take steps to ensure the physical security of your computers at the home or at the office. For example, use computer locks or keep the rooms tightly secured before you leave your home or office.
- Make sure you have a password to access the user account on your computer or mobile device.
- Change your Master Password frequently.
- Set a screen lock on your PC or mobile device.
- Do not entrust your Master Password to anyone.
- Regularly update your antivirus, malware programs and firewalls.
- Enhance your security with a biometric program such as fingerprint reading in case you forget your Master Password.
You may also want to consider the old school approach in securing the protection of your Master Password. After all, given its importance, you should take precautionary measures in the event you somehow forget the combination.
Write down your Master Password on a piece of paper, place it in a sealed envelope and just like the recipe for Krispy Kreme’s donuts, Col. Sander’s Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Coca Cola formula, keep it under lock and key at a personal or bank vault.
How to Get Started With Your Password Manager
Once you have made your choice of Password Manager program the only thing you need to do is create your Master Password. It must be as strong as possible and offer virtually no chance of being uncovered by any hacker. Therefore, take your time coming up with one.
The most important takeaway in this article is to understand the value of managing and keeping track of your passwords given the sheer number of activities you may have on the Internet.
We hope you enjoyed reading our article on the importance of having a Password Manager. It has been a proven way of protecting websites since the 1990’s and will continue to evolve into better and more efficient programs throughout the next few years.
If you want to have one installed or have more questions on this valuable software program, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.