What is a password manager and why do I need one?
We can’t get through the day without using passwords. So, the use of a password manager is very crucial. From logging into our social media accounts to managing our online banking, those little strings of letters and numbers are necessary for just about any activity we conduct online.
This is especially true when we think about how many passwords we use throughout our working days. Consider how many systems, platforms, apps, and websites you log into each week for work. Now ask yourself: are these passwords all created, stored, and accessed securely?
We know they’re important. We know they keep our data safe. And we know they should be strong and complex to avoid our data being stolen.
Yet, when faced with the ‘choose password’ field, it’s always tempting to create a password we’ve used before. One we’re confident we’ll remember in the future. After all, we’ve all faced the frustration of repeatedly trying to guess a password only to be locked out of an account we need access to right now.
But, be warned, reusing passwords is an extremely risky strategy. When websites encounter a cyber-attack and data is stolen, the cybercriminals can then try those same passwords on other websites.
So, if you’ve used the same password across multiple different accounts, you could be giving cybercriminals access to a lot of important financial and personal data, from online banking to work email accounts. If they have your password, it’s likely they also have your email address, username, and other personal information too.
The importance of strong passwords
Typically, we often opt for weaker passwords on websites we don’t think matter as much, for example, our gym or library accounts. Then, we take care to choose stronger passwords for websites we deem more important, such as online banking.
The problem is that any website, no matter its size or purpose, can be at risk from cybercriminals. And once they have your data from one source, they can then use it elsewhere.
In fact, even if you have followed the rules and used different passwords on different websites, cybercriminals may still be able to access your other personal data. For example, they can click ‘forgotten password’ on subsequent sites, therefore bypassing the need for a password.
They may need to input other personal data in order to change your password, for example, a date of birth, which they can easily access through your social media accounts (if you don’t have the correct privacy settings in place). This is why it’s crucial that you have every measure in place to protect your passwords and prevent your data from being stolen.
If you’ve fallen into the habit of using weak passwords or re-using the same password, you’re not alone. Security experts have found that the majority of people use the same weak password repeatedly across multiple different platforms.
In fact, cyber security experts Data Prot found that, in 2020, 51% of people use the same passwords for both work and personal accounts, therefore putting their business data at risk. Moreover, 53% of people rely on their memory to manage passwords, meaning their passwords are often short, weak, and repeated.
Creating strong passwords
Everyone knows that passwords need to be lengthy, complicated, and varied in order to boost their security. As mentioned, it’s critical that you create different passwords for each individual account you use. At Netstar, above all else, we recommend using a password generator to create your passwords for you; this will ensure that they’re safe and secure. If you’re using a reputable password manager, it should have a built-in password generator function making it easy and efficient to create new, secure passwords.
Importantly, passwords generated by a password generator will be:
- Long – at least 10 characters but ideally more
- A combination of numbers, letters, cases, and symbols
- Unpredictable with no recognizable words, e.g. T@bbyC@t would be considered a weak password, whereas ZUas=.4r%VzA is strong
As well as using a password generator, we recommend adding extra layers of security to your passwords. Firstly by using a password manager to store your passwords, but also by implementing multi-factor authentication and dark web monitoring.
What is a password manager?
A password manager is an online tool that stores your login information for all the different websites you use. Once you’ve set up your account with a password manager, you’ll be able to log into other websites automatically – without needing to remember each individual password. The only password you’ll need to remember is the master password for the password manager tool.
Are password managers safe?
A high-quality password manager is safe because your information is encrypted, meaning only you can access your data and no one else can see or steal your passwords.
The best password managers also offer a host of other features, making your everyday experience of using the web easier and simpler.
Getting started with a password manager
The first thing you’ll be asked to do when starting with most password managers is choosing a master password. This one password will give you access to your whole database of other passwords – so it’s important to make it strong.
The good news is that this will be the only password you’ll need to remember in the future. Most password managers will offer to generate a strong password for you, so you don’t need to agonize over which combination of letters and characters to choose.
Once your password manager is installed, you’ll be able to start changing your existing passwords across all your various accounts to ensure they are secure. Also, if you’re transferring from one password manager to another, you can easily export and import passwords to save time.
How do I get a password manager?
There are lots of different password managers available. Many offer free versions, but you can also upgrade to a paid account, depending on what features you need.
You may find that your web browser already comes with its own password manager tool. However, we don’t recommend relying on these as they are not as dependable as a dedicated password manager.
Creating strong passwords is one of the most important steps in protecting yourself against cyber-attacks – both at home and in your business. As cybercriminals develop ever-more sophisticated tactics to steal your data, it’s now more important than ever to create secure passwords.
There are methods that can be used to find out if your login credentials have ever become compromised, such as dark web monitoring.
It’s easy to fall into bad habits when creating new passwords but with a good password manager, you’ll uncover tools and tricks to help secure all your accounts and move forward with robust passwords, giving you the best defense possible against unwanted hacks.
Of course, in your business, strong passwords should be just one part of your cyber security policy. Attacks can come from other angles, so it’s important to put a security strategy in place to protect your business.
If you’re keen to introduce a safe and secure password manager to your business, we recommend speaking to your IT support provider for further advice about what the best option is for your business. To find out more about how Musato Technologies can help you manage your passwords, get in touch today.