PC Update

In 2021 vow to start using a password manager

Kurt Jefferson, Editor, Central Kentucky Computer Society

I keep telling students in my CKCS classes that they need to start using a password manager. You should be using a password manager on your iPad, iPhone, Mac, Windows PC, and Linux PC. Seriously? Yes.

With a good password manager, you only need to remember one password. That’s right. You don’t need to remember the one you use when you buy from Amazon. And the password you use to pay your water bill. And the one you use to log into your bank account.

Password managers are apps that securely keep track of your passwords, allow you to create private notes, automatically log you into your password-protected websites, and more.

Some of the best include:

  • 1Password
  • Dashlane
  • LastPass
  • Keeper
  • NordPass
  • RoboForm
  • Sticky Password
  • bitwarden
  • RememBer
  • Enpass

If you’re reluctant to use a password manager, wired.com says you’ve got company. “Password managers are vegetables of the Internet. We know they’re good for us, but most of us are happier snacking on the password equivalent of junk food,” writes Wired in an article headlined, “The Best Password Managers to Secure Your Digital Life.”

As I read that I said to myself, “Ain’t that the truth.” I know plenty of really smart people who are committed to their habits, who are stubborn, and who simply cannot change. They don’t use password managers. You probably know your web browser will save your passwords automatically for you. The website Tech Republic says this is a bad idea.

Why you should never allow your web browser to save your passwords shows others can see your passwords. The article describes step–by–step procedures that someone can use to view your saved passwords in Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers.

The article concludes: “Don’t allow your browser to save your passwords. None of them. Not one. If you do, those passwords are vulnerable. All someone has to do is have access to your computer (remote or physical) and, unless you use Safari or the Master Password feature in Firefox, those passwords are available for anyone to see. If you absolutely must have your browser store your passwords, and you’re not using macOS, make sure to use Firefox and enable the Master Password feature. Use Chrome at the peril of your passwords. In place of having your web browser store your passwords, make use of a password manager.”

If you use a Mac, you might avoid using Apple’s built-in keychain system and opt instead for a password manager. Glenn Fleishman, who writes about security issues for Macworld, gets into the details and digs deeper into this if you’re interested.

The website Tom’s Guide spoke with several digital–security experts. While some are not fond of password managers, plenty of others use them, trust them, and rely on them.

Cybernews writes, “You really should use a password manager. Yes, they have their flaws and vulnerabilities. But it’s still better than re-using the same weak passwords and writing them down as a note on your smartphone that becomes a playground for your kids after work.”


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