What Makes a Good Password Manager?

8 April 2022

Veronika Nedashkovskaya

Content Manager

For decades, 123456, 123456789, qwerty, and password remain the most common passwords. While people are aware of the risks associated with security breaches and data leaks, creating strong passwords seems challenging for many.

A good password manager benefits both regular users and companies in keeping sensitive login data secure. Such software manages saved passwords, generates strong combinations, and synchronises this data across devices. The Rocketech experts summed up all you need to know when choosing the best password manager app.

What Is a Password Manager and How Does It Work?

A password manager allows you to store all your passwords in a secure format, generates cryptographically complex passwords, and automatically fills them when you log in to a resource. For the user, the only remaining task is to memorise one combination to log in to the password management software. It makes it an effective tool for non-tech users and a necessary attribute of work routine for DevOps developers, cybersecurity professionals, administrators, and other IT specialists. 

A password manager is a software product for storing account passwords and logins and secure authorisation on the Internet.

Imagine that a password manager is a regular notebook where you write down all your “secret data” and codes you use to access various resources. But the notebook has a miniature lock and a key. And you cannot open the notebook without the key.

A password management tool is like a notebook where you would manually write down all your passcodes. And the key is one “password of all passwords” that grants you access to all stored data. 

Moreover, a password manager generates strong passwords and stores them in a single app. When you need a password to your email, social media profile, or even online banking, you copy-paste the required password from the software interface. Many solutions offer the autofill function to save your time and automate the login process.

5 Reasons to Use a Password Manager

Some experts jokingly compare password managers to green vegetables of the Internet. Everybody knows it's good for your health (security here), but very few use it. Here are the five main reasons to start using a password manager application

  1. You don't know how to create complex passwords, and (or) you can't remember them. 
  2. You have been hacked several times, and you don’t know how to react to such incidents.
  3. You keep losing notes, contacts, and other data you need to keep in a safe and hidden place.
  4. You often shop online and are tired of manually entering information from bank cards every time.
  5. You have a large login database, and you want to transfer it to a single repository.

And first of all, passwords constantly get stolen. Hackers attack websites and services all the time. You can become a victim of phishing. Moreover, companies are expected to hash passwords every time users type them in. However, not everyone uses reliable and up-to-date algorithms. All these factors are a great loophole for hackers. 

At the same time, the longer and more complex the password—a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols—the longer it takes to crack it. And a password manager app helps you keep all of them stored securely in one place.

Types of Password Managers

In the past years, cloud-based solutions have become extremely popular. An additional benefit of using a cloud password manager is accessing your data from anywhere. Most popular services offer smartphone apps—if you're using multiple devices, cloud services will sync all passwords across all gadgets. Some have desktop options and browser plugins to cover all user's needs.

When using cloud-based software, you risk losing all your sensitive data if the server is hacked. When choosing these options, you depend on whether the service provider uses strong, state-of-the-art encryption.

The other type is locally-installed, open-source password manager software. Storing your data locally means you can't synchronise it on all your devices. On the other hand, though, cybercriminals would have to target you specifically to access the locally-stored data. It makes such attacks more difficult and less frequent.

Most experts recommend installing additional antivirus software if you opt for a local password manager.

The additional antivirus software helps you detect installations of malicious keyloggers that compromise a specific, targeted device.

However, remember that if you lose the device with a locally-installed app, you risk losing access to all your passwords. It's recommended to always back up your data.

Essential Features

The set of features varies from solution to solution. Some users need synchronisation between devices, while cloud backup is vital for others. There is, however, a list of essential features every password manager should have. 

Keeping Passwords in One Place

The primary function of a password manager is to save user account information. You can use your unique password for each account—the program will save and remember any number of combinations.

Data Protection

Most popular web browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox offer built-in password managers that save your login data and synchronise it between different devices. And the majority of users stay with these basic browser features. But it opens an extra opportunity for breaches and data theft.

Third-party applications that manage account passwords store all data in encrypted and tamper-proof repositories. Only the data owner has access to it.

Autofill Function

The application specifies the authorisation information according to the saved URL. It prevents input errors and protects against hacker attacks.

Generating Complex Passwords

It is strongly advised not to reuse your passwords. Best password managers create unique, “chaotic” character-number combinations, difficult to crack. Such generated passwords can consist of tens and hundreds of characters.

Identifying Suspicious Sites

The password manager determines the correct URL for a specific login ID and password pair. If the addresses don’t match or the URL is false, registration information is cancelled.

Password Manager Vs Paper?

While you can keep all your logins and passwords written down in a notebook, most cyber security specialists advise choosing specialised software for that purpose. A secure password manager can help you keep your sensitive data safe and organised. On top of that, the best solutions store your data categorised (login credentials, personal documents, credit card details, and secure notes) and offer extra functionality like sharing with multiple users, offline mode, or creating multiple accounts. Such software is a must-have cyber security tool, especially, in business and corporate environments where a hacker attack may have irreversible consequences.

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