No more paper lists or stacks of sticky notes for your passwords.
We all know we’re supposed to use a different password for each website login, and that our passwords should be at least 8 characters long (including numbers and symbols). However, if you’re an average internet user, you have at least 6 accounts that you access consistently. If you’re an internet whore like me and like to sign up for completely random shit, then you probably have more online accounts than you care to remember. So, how in the hell are we expected to remember more than 2 or 3 passwords if they need to look something like this: rOyG8!VCLR? I can’t even remember what my wife and I talked about yesterday morning let alone a series of random characters.
Thankfully, I was introduced to a password manager app last year, and it’s made my connected life a whole lot easier. I HIGHLY recommend that you sign up for one and get rid of your old password lists as soon as possible.
What is a password manager?
It takes your passwords and manages them (badum psh). It’s software that saves and helps you organize all of your login information for computers, networks, websites, and applications. Having trouble coming up with a strong password? Most of them will have password generators that you can customize to include numbers and symbols. Some even have the capability of filling in forms automatically by securely saving profile and/or financial information.
How do they work?
It stores all of your information in an encrypted file, which is only accessible by a master password. This means you only have to remember is ONE PASSWORD. Depending on the application, the encrypted file will be stored locally or secured in the cloud so that you have access to your passwords on all of your devices. The better services utilize a military-grade encryption.
There are several apps available, but I’ve listed a few of the more popular ones below:
This is probably the most well-known of the bunch and is the one that I currently use. It keeps all of my account logins safe and secure, and even has the ability to store other important information like ID info, software licenses, secure notes, or credit cards. The app has a well-designed interface that is extremely easy to use. With a couple of clicks, I can log into accounts, auto-fill forms, or enter in payment information. All of the data is stored safely on an encrypted file which I am able to save in the cloud, allowing me to access it on all of my devices. One-time licenses start at $49.99 for a single-user.
Take a look at some of the screenshots below:
LastPass is a favored alternative, and is available for free with limited features. Overall, it’s similar to 1Password in usability and quality but to get the most out of the app you have to subscribe for $12/year.
I just learned of Keeper Security this month. It’s newer to the market and is gaining a lot of steam. They place an emphasis on ease of use with their very simple design. It also has a function that allows you to safely share your information with people you trust. You can try it out for free with limited features. To unlock the premium version, you can sign up for $9.99 /year per each device. [Full disclosure: I learned about them from my graduate class. They’re not a client or anything, but I have had to create hypothetical marketing campaigns about their products and services.]
Are they 100% safe?
No, unfortunately nothing is 100% safe when it comes to passwords, computers and networks, but it’s 100x better than the alternatives. Now where’s my sticky note with the master password?