Browsers like Chrome and Firefox have built-in password management features, as do mobile operating systems like iOS and Android — so, do you really need a password manager in 2021?
- The answer is: Yes, absolutely!
Password theft is a real problem — if a hacker gains access to a single account, they can use that information to access all of your other accounts that use those same login details. And most people use extremely simple and easily hackable passwords when they create logins.
In order to keep your online accounts safe, you need every single password to be unique, random, and very complex. One of the most immediately useful things about a password manager is that it can create virtually unhackable passwords.
But password managers can do so much more than generate strong passwords. They are highly secure, protecting user data with industry-leading 256-bit AES encryption, providing additional security features like two-factor authentication (2FA) and password strength auditing, and even including extra security measures like monitoring the dark web for any of your hacked logins.
Password managers are also very convenient — they auto-save and auto-fill passwords and credit cards, let you share passwords with other users, and sync your data across all of your devices and browsers.
If you want to keep your logins safe, protect your online accounts, and save yourself a ton of time remembering and entering complex passwords, you really do need a password manager — my favorite password manager is Dashlane because it has all of the features I mentioned above, plus unique features like a one-click password changer and a VPN (virtual private network).
How Do Password Managers Keep You Safe?
Password managers provide several layers of cybersecurity.
In addition to generating secure passwords, password managers also prevent hackers like screenloggers and keyloggers from accessing your passwords — because your password manager will auto-fill your logins, there’s no way for a hacker to steal your passwords off of your screen or keystrokes.
The best password managers on the market also provide a few essential security protections that ensure your logins stay 100% secure. These are the most important security features of password managers:
- Secure encryption. Password managers like Dashlane and 1Password use secure end-to-end encryption to keep your data completely secure. It works like this — your passwords are encrypted on your device using a unique key that isn’t shared with anyone. When your data is sent to your password manager’s cloud to sync between your devices, that data stays encrypted until it comes back to your device. Because password managers use strong encryption methods, there’s no way for the data to be decoded in the cloud.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA). Your password vault can be compromised if a hacker gains access to your master password. But there are a couple of solutions to this problem. The first is to ensure that your master password is complex, random, and unique. The second is to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) when logging into your password manager. 2FA makes it impossible to access your vault without both your master password and a second piece of information, like a temporary one-time password, a fingerprint, or a physical USB token.
- Password vault auditing. The top password managers provide password security audits and data breach monitoring. Dashlane’s security auditing is the best example of this, but there are other good options out there, as well (like Keeper and LastPass). Dashlane audits every single password in your vault and offers to replace hundreds of weak or repeated passwords across supported websites with a single click. It also uses dark web monitoring to give you notifications when any of your logins show up in a data breach, or if your information is being shared in dark web forums where hackers usually hang out.
What Else Can a Password Manager Do?
While the main function of a password manager is pretty simple — generating, storing, and auto-filling passwords — today’s password managers offer a lot of helpful extras. This is mostly to help them to compete with one another! Here are a few of the additional features that 2021’s top password managers offer:
- Secure form filling.
- Password sharing.
- Automatic password changer.
- Encrypted storage.
- Encrypted messaging.
- VPN (virtual private network).
- And more…
Different password managers specialize in different areas — for example, users focused on building strong cybersecurity protections will like that Keeper provides 10 GB of storage and an encrypted messaging app. And users who often fill out advanced web forms can check out RoboForm, which offers templates for credit cards, passports, vehicle registration, and more.
Dashlane is the only password manager with an included VPN, and it’s actually really good! Dashlane’s automatic password changer is also the best on the market, changing passwords for over 300 different sites. LastPass also has automatic password changing for over 70 sites, which is also pretty good.
Families will want to look into password managers like 1Password or Dashlane that have family-specific plans. These plans make it easy to share some passwords and restrict access to others. For example, if you want your kids to be able to log into your Netflix account but not your banking account, a family password manager will make it easy to share limited access to your password vault with a variety of different users.
What’s Wrong with Built-In Password Managers?
Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox all offer password managers that integrate with your browser, while Android and iOS have built-in password managers that work across all of the apps on your mobile device.
These built-in password managers can be so convenient! They automatically ask you to save passwords, and automatically offer to fill in saved logins. However, this convenience comes at a price.
The main issue is built-in password managers just aren’t as secure as third-party password managers. If a hacker gains access to your mobile device or your Google password, then all of your logins are easily accessible.
Standalone password managers like Dashlane use secure encryption, two-factor authentication, and high-end transport layer security (TLS) to ensure that your data is completely encrypted at every level.
All of the best password managers have browser plugins and mobile apps as well, so they’re actually more convenient — the password managers built into Chrome and iOS don’t work well across different devices, operating systems, or browsers.
A third-party password manager can fully integrate with all of your devices, apps, browsers, and online accounts, while also generating secure original passwords and auditing existing passwords to ensure that your accounts remain as secure as possible.
Password Security is Personal Security
Hackers infiltrate thousands of accounts on the internet every day. And if a hacker gains access to just one of your accounts, they can often use the information from that account to infiltrate your entire online identity.
Keeping your passwords as secure as possible is the first and most important step in maintaining internet security against identity thieves and data breaches.
Setting up a password manager may take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, and it can provide a lifetime of convenience by automatically generating, storing, and filling passwords. Say goodbye to annoying password recovery processes, and instead enhance your security and save yourself hours by finding and downloading a good password manager.