How to use a password manager to increase online security
Most businesses fail the password security test miserably
Let’s have a chat about your passwords. I can likely guess what they are without you even telling me. After years of having to use client passwords to access their websites or other marketing tools, like Google Analytics or Google Webmaster, most passwords are pretty similar – usually the business name mixed with numbers (you know, to really throw the hackers off), but sometimes it’s the business owner’s name or a child’s name. There are a few that surprise me and have a password like $n0wB@11l5, but that’s rare.
Want to know the other thing I see happen a lot when it comes to passwords? They’re all stored in spreadsheets and accessible to the entire company. Those same passwords are years old and have been seen by previous employees (and potentially shared outside of the company). Really, when it comes to website security, most businesses fail miserably because of password security alone.
This can be fixed, however.
Meet Some of the Best Password Managers
Password managers help increase password security for as little as $12 per year. They help you store all of your passwords in one place, but give you the option to only have to remember one password to access them all. You no longer have to remember multiple passwords for everything you access and don’t have to maintain a spreadsheet. Plus, it’s easy to change any of your passwords from within the password manager. A few of my favorite tools to help with password management include:
- 1Password ($50 one-time fee)
- Dashlane (free to use, but $40/year to sync across different devices)
- KeePass (free to use; can sync with jump drive)
- LastPass ($12/year)
- RoboForm ($20/year)
You can read more about each of these password managers from this LifeHacker article.
My Experience With LastPass
I couldn't tell you what any of my own passwords are for sites that I commonly frequent, since I started using LastPass. This is because, now, I only have to remember my LastPass password to access them all. I have this password manager loaded on my computer, tablet, and smartphone and can use it to login to any website I want.
I can also run a Security Challenge within LastPass to test the strength of my passwords. When I ran the challenge on all of my passwords, I received the following scores:
- 84 percent Security Score
- Top 4 percent LastPass Standing
- 25 percent Master Password Score
Surprised that my master password score was so low, I went through the suggested changes to help strengthen my passwords and discovered the score was low because one of my accounts had the same password as my master password – no good. After changing that, and updating a few other passwords, I was able to greatly improve my scores.
At my own company, we often suggest that our clients use a password manager to increase their password security, as well. This helps them get better protection from password hacks, helps them easily change passwords if employees leave or if there’s a potential breach, and helps them better manage all of the companies passwords.
Random Password Generator
Lastly, there are plenty of great password generators that are free and help you easily create more secure passwords. You can usually tell them how many characters you want in the password, whether you want uppercase or lowercase (or both) letters, whether to include numerical digits, and if it should include symbols. It's a fast way to get strong passwords for any of your accounts.