How many user names and passwords do you struggle to remember? A recent study determined that the average professional has a startling 191, according to a report from LastPass. The same study found that more than 80% of security breaches can be traced back to password use. Most people choose weak (however easy-to-remember) passwords and then reuse them for multiple accounts. Any cybersecurity expert will tell you that’s a recipe for disaster. It’s no wonder so many people are turning to password managers to help them navigate the complexity of the digital world. Market studies predict that the password manager industry will grow by over 19% over the next five years.

Password Hacker

Many web browsers have integrated password managers, but not all users know enough about their browsers to seek out and employ them. Unfortunately, most browser-based applications store your password information in encrypted form on your computer. That means your data is immediately vulnerable when your computer falls into the hands of someone with malicious intent. Stand-alone password manager applications offer much more robust security than the built-in type included with web browsers. They also are capable of storing passwords for more than one device. And how many of us use just one device anymore?

What do password managers actually do?

Basic ones perform the essential function of remembering and storing a large number of passwords and making them easy to retrieve when you need them. These software run in the background as you use the internet. Some automatically complete website logins for you, while others require you to click to activate the application. Password managers will also help you generate safer passwords for both existing accounts and accounts you add once you’ve installed them on your computer or mobile device.

Some password managers offer a wide range of additional features. If you travel frequently, or are the habit of using the public WiFi at your local Starbucks, you may want to choose a company and plan that offer a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Some companies include dark web monitoring services in their plans which alert you if your personal identifying information has been published on sites frequented by criminal hackers. Nowadays, we routinely share our personal information with dozens of companies, from banks to social media outlets to online shopping sites. Knowing if your data has been compromised by a breach can mean the difference between acting quickly enough to safeguard your accounts or remaining in the dark until you recognize a problem.

Some password managers employ two-factor authentication through the use of security tokens. Security tokens are physical devices or digital keys that grant you access to your data. The key card you use to enter your office building is one example. One-time codes delivered through your smartphone are another. Security tokens are particularly important to business administrators charged with securing a large amount of data associated with multiple user accounts.

How do I choose the right password manager?

The best password managers are easy to use. As you research them, take note of how simple to navigate each of their company’s website is. Evaluate how well they educate you on the features of their various products and product options. Is it easy to sign up for service? These considerations are good indicators of the company’s overall commitment to providing a great user experience.

If you do most of your work on a mobile device, you might want to choose a product that uses biometric data – for example, fingerprints or facial features – to authenticate users. You’ll find that feature makes using your smartphone less cumbersome and frustrating when you are on the go.

Since the whole point of installing a password manager is keeping your data safe, I also recommend you do some research into the security track record of any provider you consider doing business with. Has the company experienced any breaches? How quickly and effectively have they moved to communicate with customers and fix the problems that caused the breach?

You may find useful:
How to Secure Your Laptop from Hacking Attempts

What else can I do to improve my online security?

Choosing a very strong master password for your password manager is essential. Of course, that’s one thing your app can help you do. It’s also important to install recommended updates to your devices’ operating systems and to any applications you are using. Install a two-factor authentication app on your smartphone and, when two-factor authentication is offered by a website, take advantage of it. And never opt out of using security features just to make life a little easier.

What does the future of cybersecurity hold?

The science of digital forensics is concerned with developing cybersecurity measures to protect data from falling into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, progress in digital forensics is often driven by scientists’ investigation of security breaches that have already occurred. As hackers become more inventive, digital security applications become more capable of managing specific threats. But that’s not much consolation when you find that you’ve been hacked. Your best bet is to practice good password hygiene, take advantage of the most sophisticated password protection technology available right now, and keep up with all recommended updates to your chosen password manager. Make it a goal to stay well-informed about advances in the field of cybersecurity. And check our blog regularly to keep up-to-date as the industry evolves.