Online security is like doing your taxes – it’s not interesting to talk about (for most people, at least) but it’s hugely important to everyone.
With each passing year, more of our life is conducted online, and most of this online activity happens with an account that we log into. Shopping on Amazon, talking to friends on Facebook, searching on Google, watching Netflix, looking at iPhone photos, hailing an Uber, sending money on Venmo – there is a massive list of things we do after logging in with a username and password.
Despite this, most people are extremely careless with managing their online passwords.
One study found that 39% of Americans use the same password for many online accounts and 25% use a simpler password than they would like because it’s easier to remember. (source) These numbers are all self-reported, so there’s a good chance the actual behavior is even less rosy.
What makes matters worse is there are very serious effects when online logins are compromised.
Cybercrime cost the world $3 trillion in 2015. That number is expected to double in the next two years and reach $6 trillion of annual losses by 2021 (source). The issue is as widespread as it is costly: 64% of Americans have personally experienced a data breach (source).
There’s no silver bullet to solve this issue, but one of the most important steps people can take to prevent their online identity being compromised is to start using a password manager.
What are password managers?
These tools let you can create one very long and hard-to-hack master password to log in your password manager, and then use the password manager to remember all the rest of your online logins.
What are the benefits of password managers?
Using password managers enables you to: generate
Generate random passwords for each website
The main benefit of using a password manager is the ability to create random, unique logins for each online account
This means on the off-chance that your Facebook password is compromised, hackers will only have access to your Facebook account. Because your Facebook password is different from all your other passwords, hackers can’t use the same password to log into your Google account or Venmo account, which greatly constrains how much damage they can do.
Ability to easily (and securely) share passwords
If your password is a random string of letters and numbers, how are you supposed to share your Netflix login with your sister or bank account login with your husband?
Another benefit of using password managers is they make it easy to securely share passwords. Through family accounts or business accounts, multiple people can have access to shared logins, while your personal logins are kept to yourself.
Ease of two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is an additional layer of security that’s recommended for especially sensitive accounts
When you log into your account you not only need to type a username and password, but also a short code that gets texted to your mobile phone or is stored in Google Authenticator. Two-factor authentication makes your account much more secure, but it can be a pain to use since you need to find your phone and enter an additional code.
Many password managers offer two-factor authentication support, which makes entering this code as simple as clicking on a drop-down. No more looking for your phone and no more manually typing in codes.
Easier password entry on mobile devices
As more of our lives move online, more of our online experience is happening from mobile devices. However, m
Both iOS and Android now integrate with password managers, which means there’s no need to manually type out passwords on mobile. Open a login prompt within a website or app, and the OS will automatically suggest the right password to fill.
Detection of compromised and reused passwords
These days, data breaches are common, and lists of passwords are getting leaked more often than ever. Password managers monitor public lists of known passwords and will tell you if one of your passwords was involved in such a leak. Changing your password will help lessen your exposure to a breach.
Get a password manager now!
Do yourself a favor and start using a password manager today. Your future (hopefully hack-free) self will thank you.