How many passwords do you use? Research shows the average U.S. adult now has over 200 password-protected accounts — a number that’s expected to double within the next five years. As a result, many people rely on a password manager to track their passwords. With a password manager, you won’t have to memorize or record your passwords. Rather, all your passwords, as well as their corresponding usernames, are stored in an app. This begs the question, however: Are password managers safe to use?
What Is a Password Manager?
As the name suggests, a password manager is an app that’s used to manage your passwords. Password managers are typically installed locally on a computer or web browser. Once installed, they allow you to specify the usernames and passwords for your password-protected accounts. The password manager will then store this data in an encrypted database. The next time you attempt to log in to a password-protected account, the password manager will automatically complete the login fields, meaning you won’t have to manually enter your username or password.
Password Managers Encrypt Passwords
As previously mentioned, password managers encrypt all your usernames and passwords. When the login credentials to an account are encrypted, they are scrambled using an algorithm that makes them undecipherable. Even if a hacker is able to access and retrieve the login credentials, he or she won’t be able to read them. The hacker will simply see random characters. As a result, you can rest assured knowing that your passwords are protected from prying eyes.
All major password managers use encryption to protect against data breaches. The only way for a hacker — or anyone else for that matter — to read a password stored in the database is by decrypting it with the encryption key, which only the password manager has.
The Importance of a Strong Master Password
A password manager is only as secure as the master password with which it’s used. Normally, password managers work in conjunction with a master password. In order for the password manager to automatically log in to your accounts, you must enter the master password.
If you use a weak master password, your password manager could become compromised. Therefore, you should create a unique, long-string master password to ensure a high level of protection.
You can use a password manager to track and manage the passwords to all your accounts. If you’re going to use one, though, you need to create a strong master password for it.