January 6, 2016

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Password Safety: Should You Be Using a Password Manager?

The start of a fresh year is irresistible. There’s such a sense of hope associated with getting organized, making changes, and kicking off new and healthy habits.

You may have some big resolutions already, but here’s an easy one to put into the mix: Make 2016 the year you start using a password manager. (And let’s face it, isn’t that quicker and more painless than losing those stubborn 10 pounds?)

Although there are several different kinds, password managers are generally designed to store all your online login credentials in one secure location. That means you don’t need to remember all those strong passwords you created for your banking, shopping, email, and online storage accounts — you just have to recall one password that grants you access to your personal security database.

Risks & Benefits

Here’s the bad news: hackers would love to get into your password manager, and many have been working hard to achieve that. Last year, IBM Security Intelligence reported that hackers were using the Citadel Trojan — a type of malware on millions of computers — to crack password managers.

But there’s good news, too. Password manager developers have been focusing even more intently on security since then, and many have multiple layers of encryption, achieving a higher level of password safety.

They’ve become better at shutting down phishing attempts, too. If you try to put your password into a bogus banking site, the password manager won’t automatically fill in your login information, giving you the head’s up that you may be on a site with a different URL than your bank’s.

Also, the password managers allow you to develop better habits when it comes to password protection. For example, people tend to use the same passwords across multiple sites, which can increase the odds of having your identity stolen. The password managers often prevent you from using the same password for more than one site, as an added security measure.

Because people tend to lean towards choosing passwords that are easy to remember, or include personal information like a pet’s name or a favorite sport, many password managers offer tips or security scores to help users create strong passwords. (Recognize any of your own combinations on this list of worst passwords?) They can even store previous passwords, to make sure you don’t reuse an older one.

Security Resolutions

Every piece of technology comes with some degree of risk, and password managers are not immune to these risks. But these services can give you the ability to implement strong passwords and prompt you to change those passwords frequently — a crucial security tactic that’s often overlooked.

When making your resolutions for the year ahead, consider getting organized and improving your password safety at the same time, in an effort to help identity theft prevention. Research your password manager options and learn how they work. Then you’ll be able to check this 2016 goal off of your list in no time.

Image courtesy of Flicr user Christiaan Colen.

Melanie Medina

Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at IdentityForce
Melanie is a native of Bolivia who has lived in Boston for over 10 years. She likes to make time to travel, jog, read, and play backgammon. Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, Melanie stays on top of her to-do list while also keeping abreast of identity theft issues. Serious data breaches are happening all the time in the U.S. and Melanie loves being part of a solution that brings peace of mind to families across the country.

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