Should you use a password manager?

Matt Blowes June 18, 2015 How To, Security

We’ve all become far too familiar with the news a popular website has been hacked and we have to urgently change our passwords.

Creating a new, strong password and then altering it for the many websites we use can be a real hassle.

This is where password managers can be helpful.

How it works

Password managing services are work using a master password.

When you first sign up, you to enter in all the various usernames and passwords for the various websites and services you use.

These will be encrypted and kept securely either in the cloud or on your local computer, depending on the service.

Now you will only have to remember your master password to login to all regular website you access.

The service can also generate new, complex passwords for compromised services or if for services with passwords that expire.

New vulnerabilities

Recently one of the more renowned password managing services, LastPass, was hacked itself.

It is a little complex but often when password managing services are compromised it doesn’t mean your passwords are.

LastPass says only registered email of users and other innocuous data was accessed, not users passwords.

You can be more secure

You can make your passwords and password managers more secure using two-factor authentication.

Many services now offer two-factor authentication themselves, you can see our guide on how it works here.

Generally they work by requiring you to also plug in a secure USB device or entering a code sent to an email address or phone number in addition to entering your password. An alternative available with many popular applications is to link to your Google Authenticator account.  Google Authenticator delivers a 6-digit code to your mobile device for each application you have connected, so you can authenticate immediately without having to wait for a text message or email to be sent by the service you are accessing.

We recommend adopting two-factor authentication wherever it is available, whether you use a password manager or not.

What service should you choose?

Using a password manager or not, each option has its vulnerabilities but password managers can make life easier.

Despite its recent hack, LastPass and its paid option (with more convenient features) is still regarded as one of the best. Other options include 1Password and Dashlane.

To find out more on the differences between these services we recommend you check out the overviews of the best password managers in 2015 by PCMag, Lifehacker and InfoWorld.


Image Credit: Yuri Samoilov on flickr

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