What I like about a password manager

We all know that we should use passwords which are (a) long and (b) different for every website and application. Few of us actually stick to those rules – indeed, with most of us having hundreds of logins, it’s impossible without help. But that help is really easy, in the form of a ‘password manager’, and what’s more, it’s pretty safe too.

I’ve been using 1Password for a long time, but there are plenty of alternatives, some of them free. What I like about a password manager makes using one compelling:

  • I have different passwords for every site or app
  • My passwords are as long and uncrackable as possible
  • I never have to type in a password, on a PC or a mobile device
  • I’m told if any of the sites I use have had security leaks
  • The system updates automatically if I change any passwords

The security implications of losing a password are frightening. This struck home many years ago when an organisation sent me a renewal form in the post, which had my password printed in plain text on it. To be honest, if anyone unscrupulous had got hold of the password, there wasn’t much they could have done except change my name and address details at the organisation. That wasn’t the problem however. I used the same password all over the place, and that same person could get into my email with that password (it was a long time ago, we were young and reckless).

Once someone can get into your email, you’re done for. Go to almost any website, click “reset password” and you get an email with a link to set up a new password. So anyone with access to your email can get into almost any service which you use. What’s more, they can also scroll through your email history and see what services you’ve subscribed to. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

There are loads of reviews online for the major password managers, like LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, etc. If you don’t use one, I suggest you start to do so. Make a list of what devices you’re going to want to use it on (PC, mobile, etc); what operating systems (Windows, Android, etc); and whether you want it to work on websites and apps. The best one should make itself apparent. Once you’ve started to use it, you’ll never look back – except to smile knowingly whenever you see someone laboriously typing in a password which they’ve memorised.