When did the internet become such a scary place?
For some people, of course, the answer to that question would be “a few decades ago,” when the dancing baby meme first went viral and amused/horrified a still-innocent nation.
But, for the rest of us, 2017 really feels like floodgates have opened, and the internet - a second home so many of us have long taken for granted – has become a more frightening place, where scammers, hackers, and malicious bots lurk around every virtual corner, ready to steal our information, bring down our businesses, and even shake up our government.
Of course, most of us don’t have the option of cutting off our internet use cold turkey; after all, we still have to rely on the web for banking, business, and entertainment. So what can we do to make sure that our money and personal information remain safe in the face of so many threats?
One of the most effective steps an individual or organization can take is to beef up their password security, and adopting a password manager is a great place to start. Let’s break down what a password manager can do to improve your digital security, and then take a look at a few of the best services currently on the market!
Why Use a Password Manager?
One of the most effective things you, as an individual, can do to protect your passwords is to... well... create stronger passwords.
Now, this is, of course, easier said than done. The strongest passwords, such as those created by random password generators, contain many characters, numbers, and symbols, and employ absolutely no identifiable words or numerical markers (such as a maiden name, an address, or a year).
Most of us don’t use this level of security when we create our passwords; plenty of us also reuse the same password or two across many different sites, making our information vulnerable should even just one of our accounts be hacked (which, it should be no surprise to learn, happens all the time).
A password manager, however, will allow you to store all of your passwords in one place, shielded by one strong master code; most systems will then let you auto-fill forms with just the press of a button.
In addition to making navigating across the net faster and easier, storing your passwords in a vault with instant access will also allow you to make them stronger; if you don’t need to be able to recall every single password and enter them by hand at every site you use, then you can make your passwords longer, more complicated, and, ultimately, tougher to crack.
What’s more, most password managers can also auto-generate alphanumeric passcodes on your behalf, and provide dual-factor authentication to certain accounts, adding an additional level of security to your everyday web browsing habits.
Why LastPass Is Our Favorite Password Manager
When it comes to the password management tools, the Geek team agrees with Verge – if you “had to pick one,” LastPass is the best and most obvious choice, since it’s “easy to use" and offers the best bang, and flexibility, for your buck.
Most of LastPass’s features are available for free, but users can upgrade to a premium account (which includes priority support service) for just $2 a month.
Once you install the browser extension and/or mobile app, LastPass will instantly allow you to start remembering and storing all of your passwords in its encrypted, personalized vault – which you can also use to store other sensitive information that you’ll need online, such as notes for your insurance cards, online shopping memberships, or banking info.
Once the info for an account is imported into your vault, you can securely share it with others (such as family members or teammates) when the need arises; with the mobile app, you can access your passwords from any device, kept private and totally personal thanks to local-only encryption and, if activated, a two-factor authentication feature (which automatically requires you to input a second log-in in order to gain access to your vault).
Even better, LastPass offers other handy features, such as a password generator, as well as a password auditing tool that will let you suss out weak or redundant passwords to further strengthen your security.
Other Password Management Tools
If you’re looking to keep your options open, LastPass certainly isn’t the only password manager out there!
A few services provide roughly the same features, albeit using different interfaces and at different price points. Some of the more notable password managers out there include Dashlane - which is free for one device but requires an upgrade to a premium account ($3.33/month) in order to sync your information across multiple devices or use two-factor authentication – and 1Password, which requires a $2.99/month fee for regular service and $4.99/month for a family-style plan, complete with improved password sharing options.
Whatever password management tool you choose, you’ve made a wise choice in opting for one! Not only will storing your passwords and usernames save you time and stress, but make you and your team safer online every single day.
Want to dive even deeper into technology security? Our team would be happy to talk shop or offer a recommendation – while digital marketing is our passion, we’ve always got time to chat all things geeky! Drop us a line today, or reach out on Facebook or Twitter, to keep the conversation going!