What is a password manager? Password Manager is an encrypted program that stores and manages all passwords and login information that you use to access online sites, applications, and other services.
Not only does it keep your sensitive data and credentials safe, it also generates unique and strong passwords for you, so you don’t have to reuse the same passwords across your devices and platforms.
Think of it like a notebook where you store your most valuable credentials, locked with a master key known only to you.
How does a password manager work
Password Manager stores your passwords encrypted to protect them from prying eyes and unauthorized access. It also displays your chosen login credentials, so you don’t have to remember hundreds of passwords yourself, except for the master password or, in some cases, the PIN you use to log into the app.
Some even allow you to authenticate your device with facial or fingerprint recognition instead of entering a master password, as you can read in our best password manager guide. For even more security, some include two-factor authentication in various forms like Google Authenticator, biometrics, or SMS based, depending on the app you choose.
Most password management apps come with browser extensions that automatically enter passwords for you, as well as an encrypted sync feature that lets you carry your passwords with you wherever you go and use them across all your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices.
After installing and configuring the password manager, open the app, copy and paste your password into the login field and access the service you want.
When you enter a secure site, the password manager installs a browser plugin that captures and replays your password and stores your credentials. The next time you visit the same site, the app will prompt you to enter your login details automatically. However, not all password managers have this feature.
However, if you’ve saved multiple logins for the same site, the app will offer you multiple login options for your account. Depending on which password management app you choose, you can find it from the saved accounts browser toolbar menu, so you can visit the saved site directly and log in automatically.
Some password managers may import your saved data or export it to other products, making it easy to upgrade to the new password manager. Others go further by providing secure online storage for your documents and allowing you to share your credentials with trusted people.
Most of them can flag your duplicate and weak passwords, offer help updating them, and if you choose a more complex one, they can automate the process of changing passwords for you.
Are Password Managers Really Safe?
With all the recent identity theft and security breaches happening around us, one might wonder if using a password manager is any more secure than keeping sensitive credentials to yourself.
You’ve probably even heard of the LastPass hacker attack in July 2015, during which their systems were checked. The goal was to gain access to its password vaults, and while the hackers managed to infiltrate the LastPass servers, they were unable to infiltrate to steal user passwords.
Their attempt was unsuccessful because LastPass cannot access each user’s password vault, nor does it have their master passwords, which means the passwords remain encrypted and locked in your vault. This is why it is so important to have a strong and unique password for all applications, websites and services that you log into.
Many of us use weak passwords or reuse the ones we already have for multiple accounts, which leads us to identity theft and other crimes.
With a password manager, you get a better combination of convenience and security than without it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a magic pill.
You should take other security measures to keep your sign-in information strong, such as using two-factor authentication for your valuable accounts, installing lock screens on all devices, and using devices you trust.
If you want to switch to another password management app, just export your data (if the app has this feature), delete your account and you’re done.
Note. Most password managers store your master password locally or on a server, but they cannot read the password because it is encrypted. This protects your data from hacking, but if you forget your password, you won’t be able to recover your account through the company.
Luckily, some password managers can help you recover your account by offering DIY kits, but if that doesn’t work, you’ll have to create a new account and manually reset all passwords for each app, website, or online service and get started. again. Be sure to read our comparison between LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane.
A word about using Browser Password Manager
Your web browser probably has a password manager built in, although it’s in its infancy and nothing compared to what a dedicated password manager can do for you.
For example, Chrome’s password manager might store your passwords on your computer, but they’re not encrypted. This means that the password files on your computer are easily accessible to others if your device’s hard drive is not encrypted.
Mozilla Firefox users can take advantage of the master password feature that password management apps offer, so you can encrypt and store your passwords on your computer. However, it doesn’t generate passwords for you, and it doesn’t have an encrypted sync feature that lets you sync and use your login information across all your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices.
The same goes for iCloud Keychain, which is great if you’re only using Apple devices, but it’s missing when you get a Windows or Android device that uses the Chrome or Firefox browsers.
The special purpose of the dedicated password manager is to protect your passwords, so you will get more useful functions using it. Your browser has different priorities, so it probably doesn’t have time to improve its password management features.
Securing Your Digital Life
It’s hard enough to remember or remember a 30-digit password full of text, numbers and symbols, but forgetting it is a nightmare. Instead of storing passwords on your phone, tablet, computer, in documents, notes or autocomplete, get a password manager. This is a much better and more secure way to keep your logins under lock and key, and your first protection against hacking.