The Pros & Cons of Password Managers

Too many passwords? You are not alone. Luckily, there is an easy to use, often free solution.

What was once a contested remedy to the seemingly never-ending number of passwords one must remember, password managers have become accepted as a secure solution to keep your accounts protected. But there is still a slight sense of skepticism surrounding these tools. Today we will take a closer look that some of the pros and cons of password managers.

For those unfamiliar, a password manager works by creating and storing strong passwords for all your online accounts. This leads to unique passwords for all of you accounts and leaves you with just one master password to remember. At inception, these tools were often in the news due to successful cyberattacks that lead to data loss. Since then, the major providers have added significant security measures and features to the point that you should feel safe handing over your password list.

The Pros:

  • Ease of Use – After setup, a password manager simply works. It securely encrypts your passwords and relives you of the need to commit passwords to memory. Better yet, removes the major risk of using the same password for multiple accounts.

  • Auto Login – Password managers can be set to log you into your accounts automatically. In some cases you may have to open the manager manually, but this can often be accomplished with one click.

  • Device Ubiquity – A password manager can be installed on all of your devices. Laptops, cell phones and tablets are all updated to any changes made and provide a consistent user experience regardless of the device.

  • Password Sharing – There may come a time where you need to provide someone else access to some or all your passwords. These tools can share out credentials on an ad hoc basis or you can assign others to have access to your entire list. In case of catastrophe, access to your accounts will not be lost.

The Cons:

  • Limited Support – Some programs, websites and even web browsers may not be compatible with a password manager. In this case you will have to manually enter your credentials. Even if this occurs, you can still save your passwords within the tool and open the vault to copy and paste your password.

  • Single Point of Failure – When setting up your password manager you are essentially creating a skeleton key. One password that can open the door to your entire online life. If your computer is regularly compromised, you run the risk of your password manager credentials falling into the wrong hands. The good news is this can be easily combated with a form of multi-factor authentication. An added security feature that is available from most password manager platforms.

  • Setup – Depending on how many unique logins you have, the setup of the account can be an arduous process. Additionally, this is not a task that you could delegate either. However, once the setup is complete you will find that time is saved not only inputting the credentials but remembering or resetting passwords.

We are moving towards a world without passwords. Soon we will see physical tokens and biometrics replace the need to memorize a mix of characters. But until that happens, password managers are a simple, secure solution to control your credentials. While a password manager is not a total replacement for good password practices, it is an added layer of security for your environment. If you are interested in trying a password manager, take a look at LastPass, Dashlane or 1Password. And don’t forget to turn on multi-factor authentication!

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