Tech experts are warning everyone that online passwords can be easily hacked, and online banks and retailers aren’t helping matters by using outdated encryption schemes. A complex, unique password for every website you use is the best answer, but who can remember a long list of passwords? Using password manager software can be the answer for online security. Here’s how to make such valuable software work for you and hopefully keep your money and data safe.
Password manager option No. 1 – In-browser
Any web browser will enable you to save passwords and related log-in information. This is a very convenient service, provided you aren’t inputting this information into a public computer, such as at a library. Even if the password is encrypted within a browser’s database, various software solutions exist for revealing passwords. As such, in-browser password management is inadvisable for online safety.
Password manager option No. 2 – Web-based
A step up from in-browser password management, web-based password manager options like LastPass, Dashlane and Roboform Everywhere provide password generation and encryption services, unlockable only by a single master password that only you know. All of this happens locally on your computer, so if the issuing company is hacked, your data will still be safe. However, if the master password you use is weak and repeats what you use on other websites, you’ll still be at risk, particularly if multiple people use your computer.
Password manager option No. 3 – Dedicated desktop software
If you want to lock down your many passwords in as secure a manner as possible, consider separate software that places no data on an external server. There is a slight sacrifice of convenience and usability, in that you can’t access your passwords from another computer, but you gain added security. It is possible to sync data through such cloud services as Dropbox, but then again, that introduces potential security risks.
Popular options in this category include KeePass, 1Password, SplashID and others. Of these, KeePass is an open source option with a solid array of security features, including protection against “dictionary” style attacks where hacking software scans from A to Z in efforts to crack your password. In order to use KeePass, a key file can be used instead of a master password, so that access is only permitted to those who have the file.
Combine a program like KeePass with a robust password generator (for those who can’t be bothered to think of something at random) that you use each time for every single password-driven website you visit. You’ll experience the greatest possible online safety, unless your tormentor has psychic powers or is an A-level hacker with an axe to grind against you.