Managing Those Passwords! (Stay Safe Online – Part 2)

In the last post, we looked at why and how to set secure passwords for online accounts. We even included tips on how to create easy to remember passwords! If you’ll remember however, one of our primary rules was to keep a separate password for every online service. That gets confusing really quickly! With the help of some software called Password Managers, you’ll find that setting new passwords for everything is easier than just remembering a few passwords for everything!

  • What is a password manager?

A password manager simply stores passwords for you, with most entering the password when you go onto a website. If you’ve ever been asked by your web browser if you want to save a password (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari just to name the 4 largest browsers all offer this as do many others) then you’ve encountered a password manager before. Password managers should securely save your password, either using it’s own password to encrypt the other ones or unlocking when you log into your computer. The simplest ones  store them on your computer, so it shouldn’t create any more security problems to use one. The best thing about many password managers is that they can automatically make you a new password when you register a new account or change your password, then save it! This obviously saves you a lot of time.

  • What if I have more than one device?

Good question! Today, most people will have a ‘main’ computer such as a laptop, their smartphone, the university PCs and possibly a tablet or another secondary device. There are ways to keep your passwords saved across all of these though. Some password managers save your passwords online in the cloud, which means they can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection. You may be worrying about security, and you’d be right to do so, but as long as you understand the risks and keep your password for any sort of program secure it should not be a problem. Do keep in mind though, if the service does get hacked so do all of your passwords and you will need to change them ASAP!

  • What services do you recommend?

We don’t ‘recommend’ any service in particular, however the website Lifehacker has compiled a list of the Five Best Password Managers (http://lifehacker.com/5529133/five-best-password-managers) in January 2015, and would be a great place to look as they were voted for by the readers of Lifehacker! Most of the services listed though do cost money or require some more complicated set-up. However, if you use Apple’s products you might want to consider iCloud Keychain (https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204085). Alternatively, if you use Google Chrome (http://www.theverge.com/2013/4/3/4180514/google-brings-password-autofill-sync-to-chrome-for-android) this can synchronise passwords across every Chrome browser you are logged into. Again however, we do not recommend or endorse either of these services nor do we guarantee that they are secure. Whichever solution you choose, you should do research to ensure:

  • You are happy with the price of the service
  • The service works on every device you want your passwords on
  • The service is secure – reading news articles and sticking to reputable services is the best way to tell this if you are not technically savvy
  • You understand how it all works – it’s easy using this not to get the most out of it. Also, some systems won’t ever let you back in if you forget your password (for your own security). Make sure you check these things before you decide on one.
  • In Conclusion

Password Managers can be very useful, but they are not entirely without risk (either technical or security). A good, if slightly older, discussion of this can be found on PC Pro (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/380377/password-managers-are-they-safe-which-is-the-best/page/0/1). If you choose to go for one, make sure you look into it and then research which one is the best for you! It’s not something you’re locked into, although it may be slightly inconvenient to move your passwords between two different password managers it can be done. So hopefully this has been an informative guide on how to improve the security and convenience of all your passwords! Our next article will look on increasing security using more than just passwords. Do you have any experience with password managers? Do you have any tips for people to help get the best out of it? Do you have any questions? Tell us via our Facebook or Twitter!

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