By now, you’ve almost certainly heard that using a password manager is by far one of the best steps you can take to protect yourself online. In this article, we’ll review some of the top reasons you should be using a password manager and some of the ones that we like and use.
What is a Password Manager and Why Should I use One?
A password manager is a secure tool that is used to store and manage your various password. In today’s digital world, we all have multiple passwords to manage. From banking to email, to social media, we might have dozens or even hundreds of passwords just for our personal lives.
With the increase in services that need accounts and passwords, came the fatal habit of using the same password, or a similar password for every service we sign up for. Easy on us, right? Unfortunately, it’s also easy for hackers! Data breaches are commonplace in today’s society, there is just no way around it. If a service gets breached, and your password is stolen, attackers may be able to reveal your password for several different services.
To prevent this scenario from becoming reality, we should all use totally unique passwords for all of our online identities. But, we’re only human after all. Who can remember 50+ different passwords (this writer certainly cannot)? Enter the password manager! With a secure, reputable password manager, you can use one “master password” which should be very strong yet memorable to you. This master password then becomes the key to unlock all of your other passwords. When you login to say Facebook, your password manager will ask for your master password and then enter your password for you.
When you use a reputable password management service, your passwords are encrypted using strong, military-grade encryption (literally) to protect your passwords and synchronize them between your various devices. This means that you can access your secure passwords from your everyday devices like your computer and smartphone.
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These are our favorite personal password managers:
The products in this category are designed for personal use. This means that you store your own personal database of passwords to be accessed by you and in some cases certain people you choose to share individual passwords with (such as your spouse).
Bitwarden is a newer product on the market, but it has some great features to offer. Starting at the wonderful price of free: Bitwarden uses industry-leading encryption mechanism’s, offers strong two-factor authentication, and the ability to share secrets with other people.
For prices as low as $10/year, they offer some other advanced features such as family accounts (sharing passwords with up to 5 family members), advanced two-factor authentication methods, and more. If you’re extra geeky, you can host Bitwarden on your own since it’s open source!
All Bitwarden users can synchronize their accounts with multiple different devices, allowing you to securely manage your passwords on the go and log into your favorite applications as well.
Bitwarden is the only open source service that we know of. In our opinion, this gives them a leg up as their code is always open to inspection by members of the cybersecurity community (and anyone else who wants to peek under the hood).
LastPass is one of the first popular cloud password managers on the market. They have rapidly gained popularity, and it’s easy to see why. Like Bitwarden, LastPass uses the industry’s leading encryption mechanisms to protect your data. It too starts at free, and offers the ability to securely share passwords with people you choose.
As a very well established provider in the market, LastPass has been the subject of some attacks. However, that’s just par for the course when you manage people’s sensitive data. However, like with any good password manager, your data is securely encrypted and is thus useless to attackers.
KeePass is a classic password manager that has been around for some time. Unlike our other two mentions, KeePass is not a cloud based service. It instead uses a file known as a KeePass Database that is encrypted using your master password. KeePass doesn’t have a lot of the features that our other mentions have since it isn’t a cloud based service. However, it’s great for people who prefer to use an offline password database. KeePass also has third party mobile applications, and you can store your database file on cloud storage to access it on the go.
Our favorite business password managers:
These products are built with business in mind. They are specifically designed to allow you to securely share passwords and other secrets with a team of people.
LastPass gets another mention here for their LastPass for Teams offering. LastPass for Teams has all of the great features of LastPass, but specifically designed for sharing with teams. Many of our Stellar IT customers are using LastPass with great success.
Bitwarden too has its own offering for business. Just like LastPass Bitwarden’s business offering packs in all the great features of their personal product, but more centered around sharing secrets with a team.
Honorable Mention: Passwordstate
Passwordstate is a server-based password management project designed for companies who need scalability and customization. Passwordstate is an amazing product (we use it internally). However, we would not recommend using it if you do not have knowledge and ability around securing applications on-premise.