What is a Password Manager and How do They Work?

What is a Password Manager?

A password manager is a piece of software designed to help you securely store all of your passwords. Many password managers go beyond just storing passwords. They can help you generate complex passwords, store secure notes and even documents, alert you to potentially compromised passwords and reused passwords. They can even tell you if your password is not strong enough. Many password managers even have browser extensions to help autofill in your login information to websites. This is just the tip of the iceberg. They can do a lot but the one thing they do well is securely storing your passwords.

Do I have to remember every password, even the complex ones?

The best part about having and using a password manager is you do not have to remember any password stored within the password manager. Every password manager is accessed with a master password. With the master password you get access to all the stored passwords and can then copy any needed password or use the browser plugin to autofill in the information.

Why should I create complex passwords?

The reason for creating complex passwords is to make them hard to guess and hard to decipher. Personally I always create, where possible, a 20 character password with upper & lower case letters, numbers, and symbols that is randomly generated.

Do I have to have a unique password for every account?

Best practice is yes. This is where the password manager comes in handy as it will remember the password for you. You also want to do this as another level of security protection. If one of your accounts becomes compromised the hacker will generally try that password at a number of other sites where you may have an account. If the account info on one of the other sites is the same that account is now compromised. By having a unique password for each account every other account is protected from the one that was compromised. If they use the same password then you have to change the password on every account that uses the compromised password.

Are Password Managers expensive?

No, password managers are generally very inexpensive and there are some free options available.

What is the best Password Manager?

One password manager is generally not better than the other. Ultimately you will need to pick the one that will best meet your needs. Many password managers offer a free trial if there is not a free option. It would be best to pick out several that you may like, compare the features and then try out your top 2 or 3.

For more information on Password Managers, Malwarebytes has a great article that dives even deeper on the subject.

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