It’s more important than ever to keep your passwords safe from data breaches. Although Google Chrome and other browsers make it quick and easy to save your passwords, using a browser to hold your passwords isn’t the most secure method around.
Keep reading to find out why and what our suggestions for better security are.
Why you should stop using Google Chrome to store passwords
Google Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox all offer for your password data to be stored in their browser, but their password manager is more of an “extra feature” than it’s intended to be a secure password manager. If anyone were to hack your computer, they’d be able to easily access all of your passwords through accessing your browser.
However, a password manager requires a “master” password to log in, so even if your computer were hacked, the hacker wouldn’t be able to see any of your passwords.
Additionally, if you store your passwords on a specific browser, then you’re locked into that browser’s platform because of the convenience of having all your passwords stored in one place. Ultimately, it makes switching to an alternate browser on a different device more difficult because you lose the convenience of having your passwords be quickly accessible.
How a password manager works
There are two main kinds of password managers: desktop-based and cloud-based.
Desktop-based password managers:
This kind of password manager is preferred by customers who don’t want any of their passwords stored in someone else’s system. The downside? If you lose your device, then all the passwords will be gone too.
This kind of password manager will store passwords locally on a device in an encrypted safe, and the passwords can’t be accessed on any other device.
Cloud-based password managers:
Cloud-based password managers will store your passwords in an encrypted vault on their network. The main advantage of a cloud-based password manager is the ability to reach your password from any device, as long as you have access to the internet.
The benefits of using a password manager
They will auto-generate a secure password for you.
A password manager will create a unique password for you when you’re signing up for a new online account. Most of them will even allow you to adjust the length of the password. The random and long passwords are almost impossible to guess for even the best hackers.
You can use your passwords for anything, on any device.
With a password manager, your passwords will be kept in a software-agnostic vault, meaning that the passwords can be auto-filled into any browser, software, or app. This is more convenient than using a browser-specific password manager because you’ll be able to save your passwords for anything.
They keep your passwords extra safe.
Obviously, the primary benefit of a password manager is how secure it is. Most password managers use AES-256 encryption to keep their clients’ passwords safe. This guarantees that your other passwords will be kept safe even if your computer were stolen or hacked.
How to set up a password manager
How to set up a password manager depends on the kind of password manager that you’re using. If you’re using a cloud-based password manager, it could come in the form of a browser extension, desktop app, or mobile app.
Regardless of the method you’re using to access your password manager, most have some similar steps.
Sign up for the password manager
To get started, you’ll need to provide your new password manager with your basic information. Some password managers offer free trials, but if they don’t have a free tier after the trial ends, then you’ll also have to enter in your credit card information.
Pick a master password
This is the most important step for using a password manager. Your master password is the one thing that’s protecting all of your passwords, so you’ll want to ensure that your password is a highly secure one (along with it being one that you won’t forget.)
Setting up the password manager
Once you’ve signed up for the password manager, install the app on all the devices you’re going to use it on. On each device that you’ve downloaded the app to, you’ll have to sign in with your email address and your master password. You’ll also want to add the app as an extension in whatever internet browser you use the most so you can quickly access your passwords.
Import your passwords
To import your passwords, look at the kind of file format that your password manager requires. Normally, the password manager will guide you through the process to set up the file correctly.
No worries if you don’t want to import any old passwords. You can also start from scratch to get rid of old, overused passwords.
Saving your passwords as you browse
Now that you have your password manager all set up, you can start adding passwords for brand new accounts. Whenever you reach a point where you need to log in, the app or the internet browser will ask you if you want to save your username and password.
Tips for creating strong passwords
It’s important to remember that password managers are just a tool; you still have to be smart about the kind of passwords you create to be stored in them.
- Avoid using sequenced letters or numbers such as “abc” or “123”
- Create a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Have a different password for each website or account. This is especially vital for your “important” accounts, such as banking or finance sites.
For more best practices and tips check out Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) here.
Our favorite password managers:
Like most password managers, Bitwarden is available in all major website browsers and it’s available as a phone or web app. Bitwarden is unique in the fact that it allows the code for its software to be open-source and the company invites people to attempt to hack it or look for weaknesses in its code (which they rarely find) HackerOne is an example.
You can feel confident that your passwords will be well protected with Bitwarden’s zero-knowledge security model. This means that that software takes your passwords and scrambles them hundreds of times so it’s impossible for a hacker to reverse-engineer or guess them. The only negative side of this zero-knowledge model is that if you ever lose your master password, you won’t have a way to access your encrypted passwords.
Like Bitwarden, Dashlanes uses a zero-knowledge model to keep its clients’ information secure. Like most password managers, Dashlane also requires two-factor authentication for you to access your encrypted vault.
Dashlane does provide a free plan option for users, but it only allows for a user to store 50 passwords on their account. Most web users will have far more than 50 accounts set up across all of their websites. Dashlanes’ cheapest paid plan is $5 a month if paid on an annual basis.
1Password is one of the most popular password managers on the market – and with good reason. The software is known for being extremely secure and convenient to use across multiple devices. You can easily select “Save with 1Password” when you’re logging into an app or logging into a new website on your computer.
1Password doesn’t offer a free tier, but they do offer a 14-day free trial for you to try out their platform. After that, their average plan only costs a couple of dollars a month.
Switch over to using a password manager
As time goes on, all of us are beginning to leave an increasingly large “digital footprint.” Be sure to protect your important accounts from hackers or from identity theft with the use of a secure password manager.
Need help training and switching your team over to a password manager?
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