How to store passwords securely – Tips for managing and storing passwords
Everyday tasks like checking email, posting on social media, and ordering groceries online require a password. In fact, one study found that the average person now has about 100 passwords.
We all know it’s a good idea to reuse passwords or use weak passwords like a dog’s name or a child’s birthday or the notorious insecure password: 12345. On the other hand, dozens of strong passwords are impossible to remember.
The good news? Taking a few minutes to learn how to best store passwords can protect your accounts from identity thieves, hackers, and nosy roommates.
Why is it important to store your passwords securely?
Storing passwords securely will help keep your important accounts safe from prying eyes who try to steal your data or money. Hackers can use a variety of methods to crack weak passwords and wreak havoc on your life.
The risks of failing to store passwords securely may include:
- identity theft An identity thief accessing a master account may be able to steal important personal information, from your full name to your address to your Social Security number. They can use this information to impersonate you, open credit accounts in your name, and create a mess that could take months to fix.
- Account takeover A hacker may be able to control one or more of your accounts, from email to social media. As you work to regain access, the attacker might send a message to your colleagues, family, or friends asking for money or tricking them out of their private information.
- Financial loss – A cybercriminal who gets your banking password might access your account before you even realize there’s a problem. There are federal safeguards for unauthorized transactions, but resolving the issue can take time and leave you bankrupt for months.
You can reduce these risks and help keep your digital life under wraps by learning how to securely store your usernames and passwords.
How to store passwords securely
There are a variety of free and paid options to securely store your passwords. It’s easy to use the password manager feature of your internet browser, but a dedicated password manager might provide a better way to store the username and password for each important account.
Browser password managers
Popular internet browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari offer a password manager feature. You can set the browser to ask if you want to store your password whenever you create an account. You can also have the browser automatically log you into your account each time.
There are pros and cons to using your browser to manage your passwords.
Advantages of using the browser as a password manager:
- Conveniant – Password manager is already in the best internet browsers, so no need to download and learn a new app.
- Fast – It’s quick and easy to modify the settings and click “Yes” when asked to store your password.
- free – You can store your passwords in your browser without withdrawing a credit card or agreeing to pay a monthly fee.
Cons of using the browser as a password manager:
- It only works on one browser Have you switched browsers before? If so, connecting your password management system to a single browser can be daunting.
- Less options for password generator Your browser must be able to generate a secure password for you. But you may not have many options to customize this password.
Not sure if a browser password manager is right for you? A good password manager app might be the best place to store passwords.
password manager apps
Password managers offer an excellent alternative to using your browser’s password storage feature. Here are some of the pros and cons of using a dedicated password manager app.
Advantages of using a password manager app:
- The best place to store passwords A reputable password manager app is the best way to securely store passwords. Password Manager allows you to easily create, manage and access secure passwords.
- Get strong, personalized passwords – The password manager will generate strong passwords and allow you to set the number of characters, whether you want to include symbols and if you want a strong password that’s easy to say or spell.
- May offer free plan Most password manager apps offer a free plan with basic features that work on a single device. It is definitely possible to get a password manager without pulling out your credit card.
Cons of using a password manager app:
- It takes time to find the right – You may need to spend some time comparing password manager options and prices to choose the right app for you. The sheer number of options available can be overwhelming, as can the choice between a free and paid plan.
- May be common Even the best apps get complaints from users about occasional technical vulnerabilities such as blocking the user from the password manager or not being asked if they want to save a password.
- Requires a master password – You usually need a very long and strong master password to log into your password manager. You will have to find a safe place to hide this password, and it can be difficult to access the password manager if you get lost.
Some of the popular password manager apps* include:
- Dashlan Dashlane offers a free plan for one device and paid plans for two or more devices. The Dashlane Family Plan offers six distinct separate plans that are managed under one account.
- RememBear – RememBear is a fun way to keep track of your passwords. It offers a free plan for one device, and it has a paid plan for multiple devices with sync and backup.
- Petwarden Bitwarden is an open source password manager that offers free and paid plans to individuals and businesses. It provides a free password generator and allows you to sync passwords across devices.
- LastPass LastPass offers a free plan with a password generator for one device, a premium plan with encrypted file storage for multiple devices, and a family plan.
- guard Keeper offers many paid personal and family plans as well as business and student plans.
It’s worth spending some time comparing these and other password managers to find one that offers the right mix of features at the right price for you.
Most insecure way to store your passwords
Now that we’ve covered the best way to store passwords, let’s talk about the worst ways to keep track of your login information. Here is a list of the most insecure ways to store your passwords:
- document on your computer Even if you password protect a Word document or spreadsheet, a hacker using a keystroke logger may be able to capture your passwords. You will also need a place to store the password for the document.
- paper note Writing down your passwords in a physical notebook or on a sticky note may keep passwords out of the reach of hackers around the world. But passwords stored in this way can fall into the hands of a thief, service person, house cleaner, relative or roommate.
- Notes app on your phone Anyone who picks up your phone can access all of your passwords unless your phone is protected by a strong passcode. You can lock a note with a password on your iPhone, but then you face the problem of how to store that password.
- email Have you ever emailed a password so you don’t forget it? Emails may be stored on different servers and may sit in trash folders after deleting, making it easier for a hacker to pass your passwords on.
Fortunately, you now have a variety of more secure password storage options to consider. Although a password manager can require a bit of a learning curve, it is much better than hacking your accounts because you stored your passwords the wrong way.
* The inclusion of websites, apps, trademarks, service providers or links does not imply endorsement or support of any company, product and/or provider mentioned herein, nor should it be inferred that NortonLifeLock is endorsed by, sponsored by, or affiliated with such trademarks .