Improve your digital security with a Password Manager

4th Dec 2020

There are now over 15 billion stolen usernames and passwords in circulation on the dark web – equivalent to two sets of account logins for every person on the planet.

Protect your friends by sharing this article with them:

A study last year at Virginia Tech revealed that over 50% of people use the same password around the internet and just update a number in it here and there. If that’s you then you should read on.

Most of us have a lot of passwords to manage. We use them to access our online accounts with a huge range of institutions. We’re told to use powerful and unique passwords for each separate account to prevent us falling victim to serious crimes like identity theft. This is hard work. We’re also told to use words and numbers that are not personal to us (and could be guessed). That makes it even harder.

When we say “could be guessed”, this is no longer a single nasty person trying to guess your dog’s name or your mother’s maiden name, this is software being run by large criminal gangs that can decrypt all but the most secure and randomly generated passwords. The elements that make passwords secure are a long unique string of characters. This uniqueness is hard for a human to manage, but much easier for the cold unbiased logic of Password Manager software. Simpler this way.

IPS recommend you consider a Password Manager to increase your protection from hackers. 

How do Password Managers help?

The biggest selling point is that this is a simple way to significantly improve the security of your personal data.  All you need to remember is one password (the one to open the password manager). Once open, the software will create and update, remember, manage and automatically input secure passwords for you as well as the usernames that go with them. A password manager will become your personal trusted digital security officer with a black belt in passwords that are fiendishly difficult to crack. We hear you saying that everything is now hackable, but it becomes a law of diminishing returns  for criminals if your password would take so much experimental computer power to try and decipher – versus someone else who has no such protection. Make sure you are the one with the protection.

A simple password offers almost no protection from the scammers’ software that can replicate the rational thought patterns of the human brain. The password manager creates combinations of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation marks and symbols to make it increasingly problematic for a hacker to hack you.

Naturally, you should choose a complex password to access the Password Manager but the passwords inside it are all encrypted as another layer of protection. Don’t make it too hard on yourself when creating that password: three random words with three random punctuation marks in between should do it. And write it on a piece of paper and store that safely (or remember it!) rather than store that in an email, a cloud or on a device. Something like: “africa-badge_skate” would be a good password. (Don’t use that one).

If you have no password manager you may choose, as the National Cyber Security Centre recommends, to trust the technology companies who operate your browser (Google, Apple, Microsfoft, Mozilla…) with your passwords by allowing them to store and autofill the password requests on the sites you visit. But if you also have them stored in a spreadsheet on your computer as backup then you are still vulnerable. Once you get used to trusting your password manager software you can turn off the browser autofill feature and manually copy and paste each password from your manager, if you want to be extra careful.

Your password manager provider holds all your password data on secure servers and removes the risk that a hacker could gain access to your computer or phone and grab all the passwords in one swoop. This is their core business so you can believe that they do security better than you do.

Password managers might seem like a lot of effort but they are much simpler than you think. They offer increased security and peace of mind for reduced effort. They are a step towards a good night’s sleep knowing you’ve done one more positive thing to protect yourself online and for that reason, IPS recommend you make the effort to try them out.

IPS Summary

There are a range of “Password Manager” providers in this space so feel free to look around.

1Password*

Your logins and private documents are securely stored in your password vault. 1Password can record your usernames and passwords when you sign in to apps and websites.

LastPass*

LastPass are one of the leading players in the market and offer features like family sharing if you want to share some passwords safely between you. They also have web monitoring features which will pro-actively monitor breaches of accounts that relate to your accounts and inform you to take action when necessary.

Dashlane

Stores up to 50 accounts in secure vault with multi-factor authentication. Fills out forms with delivery addresses and contact details automatically.

*IPS make a small commission per transaction, at no extra cost to members, and want you to be aware of that. The choice to find out more remains entirely at your discretion.

Norton’s Password Manager is also included in the IPS Premium package, click below for more details

Have your say

As an IPS member, you can leave us your thoughts, comments and experiences in the commments section below

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.