Password Managers: What are they?

It is important to use a unique password or passphrase for each account that you have. Reusing the same password for different accounts makes you vulnerable to hackers. A hacker who has accessed one of your accounts will try to reuse the stolen password to access other accounts that you have. One of the popular recommendations of the security awareness education is making passwords user friendly, and it was advised that password managers should be utilized. This prompted the question, what is a password manager?

In a world where different passwords are used daily on a variety of devices, it has become increasingly difficult to remember each unique password and keeping it secured without writing it down. A password manager is a software application that is used to store and protect all of our passwords in one secure place on our devices e.g. mobile devices or computers. In other words, it serves as a virtual vault for your passwords. In other words, password managers are special programs that securely store all your passwords in an encrypted vault. You only need to remember the password for the password manager in order to access all the passwords that you have saved in it. There are other features that come with password managers that may vary from one application to the next.

One caution: always remember the password for your password manager.

 

Benefits of using a password manager.

  • It helps you to create complex, distinct, secure passwords for each of your accounts e.g. for websites, applications etc., and stores them.
  • It is capable of entering the passwords for you.
  • You don’t have to memorize or write down your passwords.
  • It removes the temptation to re-use same password for multiple accounts.
  • You need to know and remember just one password referred to as the “master password” to access all of your passwords stored in a password manager.

Note of warning: The downside of using a password manager is that you must never forget your “master password”, otherwise you will lose access to all of your other passwords. It should be noted that once your master password is forgotten no one can retrieve them for you not even the product owner/vendor and you will have to reset the passwords on all sites/areas you used the password. It is therefore important you don’t forget what this “master password” is.

List of Password Managers

There are many types of password managers. ITSS does not endorse or provide any support for a particular product. Below is a list of widely used password managers.

 Things to consider when choosing a good password manager

  • Is it user friendly? (ease of use)
  • Is it actively updated and patched? (always use the latest version)
  • Does it create strong passwords?
  • Where is the data stored and how is it encrypted?
  • Does it have multifactor authentication?
  • Can you use it across many devices?
  • Does it offer you a way to securely share passwords in a team?

Remember, there is never a perfect solution in information security, this also applies to password managers. As you use password managers, you still have to maintain good cybersecurity habits such as keeping your software up-to-date, not leaving your password manager running when you are not actively using it, and ensure that you use two-factor authentication for extra protection.

Resources:

Password Managers, A Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC) Resource, July 2019 Available https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2015/7/passwordmanagers-pdf.pdf

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Article ID: 621
Created
Mon 7/5/21 11:03 AM
Modified
Thu 7/29/21 12:07 PM