Many essential tasks can now be completed in the digital realm. Online banking, shopping, entertainment, and many other services can be done online, contributing greatly to people’s convenience.
These platforms have taken measures to secure our private information behind login credentials. These measures include requiring secure passwords to prevent data breaches and compromising sensitive data.
But for users, staying on top of our data security is also a must, hence requiring healthy password habits or a dedicated password manager.
Keep reading to explore the best password managers available today, their features, and valuable tips on storing passwords.
Why Are Passwords Important?
A password is a secret code that confirms your identity when logging into a computer, file system, website, etc. It’s your main line of defense against individuals looking to steal your personal information or identity.
Choosing a strong password while creating an account anywhere online is a mandatory step nowadays. However, if you use weak passwords, hackers can discover them and gain access to your sensitive information. This makes you vulnerable to cybercrimes like phishing and blackmail.
How Can Hackers Steal Passwords?
Hackers can steal your passwords in many ways, so it’s critical to monitor your passwords, website history, downloaded programs, and whom you share your information with.
A common way hackers steal passwords is by creating fake websites or e-mails to trick users into inputting their login credentials, which are then received by the hackers.
The way to protect against this is to ensure that the website’s address is correct and that the e-mails are from a recognized entity.
There are other more sophisticated ways hackers steal passwords, including keylogging, password brute-force cracking, and social engineering, where they pose as organizations or phone customer support and try to convince you to share your information with them.
What Are the Best Ways to Store Passwords?
There are many ways to store and secure your passwords. Let’s highlight some of them.
1. Using a Password Manager
Password managers are password management software used to generate and securely store all your passwords. They are intended to assist you and minimize the risk of having your data compromised by hackers.
When you use this software, the only way to reach your passwords is through a strong master password. This keeps your passwords secure and saves you from the hassle of remembering them individually.
Another strong point of password management software is the ability to generate a unique password for each account. This prevents data compromise caused by using the same password over multiple platforms.
What Are the Best Password Managers?
There are several password managers available today. The most commonly used ones are:
- LastPass: A feature-rich manager with a built-in password generator, it automatically files in your passwords. It also includes several security features, such as encrypted file storage and two-factor authentication.
- Dashlane: This is a popular manager that stores your identification data. It functions through a web extension and application, allowing you to organize, automatically fill in login information, and sync passwords across all devices.
- BitWarden: This software is an open-source manager that can generate strong passwords and sync them across multiple devices. Its premium version comes with a dedicated authenticator app.
- 1Password: 1Password uses a strong master password to lock all your login credentials. You can also access all your accounts with a single click, generate a secure password, store information, and be notified in case of a data breach.
- NordPass: This generator allows you to securely store passwords in a vault that only you can access with a master password. It can also create strong passwords, store personal information, and scan the web for data theft.
2. Using Biometrics
Biometrics uses your physical characteristics, such as your face, fingerprint, or iris, to confirm your identity. Nowadays, it’s common to find smartphones and sensitive applications using biometrics to protect your data, as they can be tougher to crack than passwords.
Additionally, accessing your information is much faster with biometrics.
3. Memorizing Passwords
The safest way to protect your password is by memorizing it. If you eliminate the need to save your password somewhere, you’ll significantly reduce the risk of someone coming across it or cracking it.
However, you need to be careful because if you forget your passwords, it will be difficult to access important services and applications.
What Are the Most Unsafe Ways to Store Passwords?
There are a few methods of storing passwords I recommend against. Let’s explore them in detail.
1. Writing Passwords Down
Long ago, writing your passwords on a piece of paper used to be the norm. However, this archaic method is subject to many flaws; among them is the possibility of you losing that piece of paper and, consequently, having someone else come across it.
2. Web Browsers
Like password managers, web browsers offer the feature to generate and remember passwords. However, if your passwords are linked and synced with your browser’s account, they can be easily hacked.
Furthermore, if you lose access to your e-mail (a common happening, surprisingly!), you may also lose the passwords generated by your browser.
I also recommend against storing your passwords in a document on your device. If you leave your computer or phone with someone else, they can easily access them and gain access to your accounts.
What Are the Best Practices for Password Security?
Here are more valuable tips to ensure your passwords remain strong and impervious to hackers.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is an extra security measure that requires you to provide a second form of authentication after using your login credentials. If you have 2FA activated, even if a hacker steals your password, they can’t access your accounts.
The most common way to activate 2FA is by linking your phone number to your account (for receiving SMS codes) or using an authenticator application.
Adopt Healthy Password Creation Habits
Whatever method of password storage you use, there are techniques you can adopt to ensure your passwords’ strength.
When creating a password, use a combination of capitalization, symbols, and numbers to add to its strength. Additionally, make sure it’s at least eight characters long.
If possible, extending its length to twelve or more characters is much better. You need to change your password regularly, too.
Avoid Common Password Security Mistakes
There are a few jarring errors beginners commit when creating, saving, and using passwords.
First, try to avoid reusing a password in multiple accounts. If it gets hacked, all those accounts will be compromised.
I also recommend against allowing your web browser to save your passwords. Although it’s a timesaver, anyone with access to your laptop can log into your accounts and potentially discover your passwords if they have your PIN.
Finally, use safe storage methods to store your passwords. If password managers aren’t your thing, consider using biometrics when possible and strong but easy-to-remember passwords.
What Else Can I Do to Keep My Passwords Safe?
Aside from using a safe password storage method and adopting my recommendations above, it would also help if you learned about common tricks hackers use to steal your passwords, including phishing scams and social engineering to protect against them.
Furthermore, staying up-to-date with security news, especially data breaches, can help you assess the health of your passwords and make any necessary changes.
Today’s digitalization streamlined most of our daily tasks. However, these services are locked behind accounts requiring passwords, which are subject to cybersecurity issues.
Using password managers or other password storage options and adopting healthy password organization habits is the first step to ensuring your data is kept away from the hands of prospective hackers.