Password managers act not only as a storage mechanism for all your logins, but employ some of the most powerful encryption methods available to secure that information in a database, as well as during data transfer when logging into sites. As your usernames and passwords are stored by the password manager itself, most offer dynamic password generation to create sophisticated and complex passwords for sites, leaving you to only remember one master password to log into the manager itself. A dynamically generated password is nearly uncrackable by brute force password crack programs, as these programs are written to systematically attempt words from dictionaries, proper names, and lists of common passwords. Only when those options are exhausted, will these programs begin attempting random combinations of characters up to 8 or 9 characters. Password managers are designed to create dynamic passwords much longer and complex.
By installing the password manager on all your computers and devices, you will be able to log into sites without manual input, which will eliminate the possibility of a keylogger capturing your input. As logins are tied to specific URLs for future use, you'll be protected from logging into malicious phishing sites that otherwise look identical to your intended destination. Many password managers also include auto form-filling features, which can store all your pertinent contact information, which is needed to sign up for new sites. Not only will you once again avoid potential keylogging software from grabbing that info, you will save the time needed to sign up.
In the most recent 2012 Global Security Report published by Trustwave, findings show that once breaching a system via malware, or other means, 80% of security incidents in both large and small companies can be credited to the use of weak administrative passwords.
The study found that the top ten most widely used passwords within companies are:
What to Look for in a Password Manager
Features: A good password manager will not only provide a means of storing login information, but also any information that would be required for signing up on a new site. Besides providing additional security, you will see a great deal of convenience in filling out forms.
Security: Make sure your password manager provides government level 256-bit AES encryption to protect your passwords. There are also DES and Blowfish algorithms. As long as you passwords are encrypted and not stored in clear text, they are safe.
Ease of Use: Your password manager should be able to sync all your data everywhere so you can access it anytime you need it. A good password manager will allow you to sign up on sites and login with very minimal effort.
A great free solution for password management is LastPass Password Manager. CNET and many others have given LastPass excellent reviews with CNET saying, “Password security and management have long been a deficient part of any browsing experience, and LastPass solves that problem while also making your passwords accessible anywhere. Cross-platform, cross-browser, and secure with a hefty range of options, this is the gold standard for password management.”
Are you using a password manager now? Which do you use? Let us know your favorites in the comments.
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