We live in a digital age with usernames, passwords, biometric logins and so much more. Like it or not, it’s here to stay. But having all these passwords can be confusing and frustrating. How do you keep track of them all? And how do you make sure they’re secure enough to fend off hackers?
Some people may keep passwords in an Excel spreadsheet, on sticky notes or in a notebook. Unfortunately, none of these methods are secure and it can be daunting to keep these passwords up-to-date when they inevitably change.
In light of recent natural disasters, another factor to consider is that your computer, sticky notes or notebooks could be destroyed. Then you’re back to square one.
Luckily, there are tools out there to help keep your logins and passwords secure and at your fingertips, with minimal effort to keep them up-to-date when they change. Let’s take a look at a few options.
Select a Tool to Secure Your Logins and Passwords
Dashlane, 1Password, LastPass and Keeper are just a few of the major password managers out there. Most of them offer a basic, free account for you as an individual to setup and use. Any of these password managers will have a small web browser add-on which will find username and password fields on a page and allow you to automatically create, save, update or even fill in your username and password for the given site.
Most of these also offer a password generator so each site has its own secure and unique password. This keeps would-be attackers out of your accounts in the event of a breach on another site.
What If Your Password Tool Gets Breached?
So now that you know about tools available to keep, manage and fill in passwords for you, I bet you’re thinking, “Well if that gets breached, everything leaks out.” While that may be true, when you setup your account they will ask you for a unique password that will only be used on the password keeper’s site. They will also strongly recommend that you use your mobile phone as a backup so they can verify your identity with a code.
All their passwords are stored with military grade level encryption, so even if the database were to be breached, the information won’t be discernible to the attacker.
What If a Family Member Needs To Gain Access?
Now that you’re the sole person who has access to these passwords, what happens if you were to become incapacitated? How do your loved ones access your important online accounts?
It is more important than ever to make sure someone other than you knows how to access your digital accounts and files. Often, one member of the household manages financial files, documents and digital accounts. If something happens to you, and you’re the one who holds all the passwords, your loved ones will have a terrible time in an already unfortunate situation trying to access things like bank accounts, investment accounts and retirement plans.
The good news is all these major vendors offer a “family plan.” Just as you can share minutes and data on a cellular plan, you can share logins and passwords with trusted individuals. Here’s how it works:
You or a member of your family signs up for a password manager’s family plan. It’s not free but it is inexpensive (plus, you get plenty of other benefits that we’ll touch on later).
Whomever sets up the plan invites other family members to join the password manager. At this point you can add all your usernames, passwords, ID cards (medical, driver’s license, etc.), secure notes (maybe notes to a lock box at the bank) and even secure documents, like a will, that others may need to access. As a member of the plan, entries will be available to other members of the group. However, you can also set specific permissions for items you’ve entered.
Depending on which service you choose (LastPass, Dashlane, etc.), the paid plans offer password breach monitoring, also known as dark web monitoring, which can notify you if one of the passwords in your manager has been compromised.
What Happens to All Your Current Passwords?
You might be wondering what happens to all the passwords you have saved in Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge and other web browsers. Luckily, there is an “import” feature that allows those previously saved credentials to be brought into your password manager, making the transition easy as pie.
While these change sounds a little daunting, all the providers we’ve mentioned are super easy to use. Even members of your household who aren’t tech savvy will find it easy to update and keep passwords.
As another plus, if you use a smart phone, all of these vendors have apps that integrate with your phone, so you have all your passwords auto-filled for mobile websites and applications (like banking apps).
Passwords are a necessary part of day-to-day life. Keeping track of them yourself is time consuming and difficult but using a password manager adds high level security and user level convenience. Not to mention, a password manager carries the additional benefit of allowing trusted family members access when necessary.
Our Technology Solutions Group includes a team of cyber security experts. We’re happy to meet with you for a free cyber security assessment to help you strengthen your security with password managers. Or, you can contact us online or call 410.685.5512 with any questions.