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Ditch your “go-to” password: How password managers will change your life

Foolish passwording. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. Your mom does it.

You know what I’m talking about. A little popup appears saying you can’t access the sale section unless you enter a username and password. You’re in a hurry, and you don’t think you’ll ever visit the site again, so you type in:

Username: MyFirstName

Password: puppiesR$0kewt

Your standard combination. You’ve used this password on a dozen sites. You can type it at lightning speed without thinking. You probably think it’s really cryptic because of all those symbols and funny spellings.

Wrongo.

Even with hashing, crackers can have a field day mining sites for passwords. It’s 2014 and we know this. And let’s fast forward to two months later, when that random site has all three of your credit cards stored and you’re still using that scrappy puppy password. What happens when the next Heartbleed strikes?

But what’s the alternative? Remembering 30 different cryptic passwords?

Enter password managers – handy little services that can take some of the burden of Internet security off your back. Password managers do a couple things to make your life easier:

1. They store ALL your passwords – that means no more password-protected Microsoft Word documents or scraps of paper taped to the back of your monitor. You can access all your passwords by remembering one Master Password.

2. They automatically input stored passwords when you visit a site. Did you hear me? Automatically. Password managers can automatically log you in, the way your browser wants to when it asks if it should “remember this login.” Except now you can say yes!

3. Password managers generate complex passwords for you! As a thinking human with a logical brain, it’s hard to make up a nonsensical password. What starts as a string of numbers becomes your brothers’ birthdays combined (real slick). Instead of rolling dice or using password generator sites, the password manager can handle that for you, creating long, complex, annoying passwords you’ll never even have to think about.

Choosing a Password Manager

Almost all password managers offer one single Master Password, and most of them provide auto-fill and options for multiple devices. I scoured the web looking for password managers that also offer:

  • Simple syncing across devices, making desktop to mobile transitions easy.
  • Security. I know that seems obvious, but if ALL my passwords are stored in one password database with ONE Master Password, I want it to be really tough to hack. I was looking for services that offer multifactor verification for login, such as Google Authentication.
  • User interface. Read: they’re pretty. I wanted a service that’s easy on the eyes and well organized, making it that much easier to navigate in a hurry.

Top Picks:

These three services are :

1. Dashlane (free, but mobile and syncing across devices are paid)

  • Multifactor authentication via the Google Authenticator mobile app.
  • Syncing across devices, security backup, and web access on any device for $29.99/year.
  • Mac, PC, iOS, Android.

2. LastPass (free, but mobile and syncing across devices are paid)

  • Multifactor authentication via the Google Authenticator mobile app.
  • Mobile and syncing across devices for $12/year
  • Mac, PC, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry.

3. OneSafe (separate fees for desktop and mobile licenses, but it makes the list for being easy to use and secure)

  • TRI-PIN authentication for secure login
  • Automatic syncing across devices
  • Mac: $19.99, Mobile: $9.99, Mobile Essentials: Free, Windows phone: $0.99, Android: $5.99

Other considerations:

Looking for a completely free options? These services are free across devices for a limited number of passwords:

Need to share passwords with a select person or group? These services offer shared access (great for teams, groups or couples)

 

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4 comments

  1. Melissa Replied

    I’ve been using PassPack since 2013 and it works great!

  2. Amy Replied

    How secure are these managers? Does anyone know?

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