Earlier this month, password manager LastPass switched to a freemium model, enabling users to manage passwords across multiple devices free of charge. This is positive news, because losing sensitive information isn’t just stressful; it’s expensive.
A recent I.B.M. study found that the average cost of a lost or stolen record is $158 – and with 500,000+ password breaches in the first half of 2016 alone, that’s a lot of lost money.
With password breaches occurring with such disturbing regularity, we wanted to see how you manage your passwords. Below are some of the most popular ways to do it; check them out, and let us know how you keep your information private in the comments below!
Let’s start with #1…
1. Storing Passwords in your Browser
Google Chrome, the most popular browser worldwide, reveals your saved online passwords with a few easy clicks. You’ll need to input the computer password if there is one – but after that, any password you’ve ever saved is one easy click away.
This means a hacker with your system password – the one you use when starting up the computer – can access all your records on a whim.
The surprising thing is, Chrome isn’t alone in this. Most browsers have the same function – meaning browsers aren’t a particularly safe way to manage passwords. They’re okay if nobody else uses your computer, but you’re better off using a free password manager instead.
2. Free Password Managers
There’s a large choice of free password managers on the internet. Most of them are Freemium, meaning the basic functions are free with extras costing money.
Several apps – including LastPass, which we mentioned earlier – come as a browser extension-standalone app combo. You simply install a single app on all your devices and your passwords get synced automatically which is rather convenient
In most free password managers, you select a “master password”. It’s the only password you need to remember: the app saves all your other ones and uses them automatically. Several apps, like device-based oneID, don’t even require a master password; just your device
A few password managers, like KeePass and Symantec Norton Identity Safe, can import from other apps, meaning you can manually sync across different apps on your devices – all without paying a cent.
But while free password managers are effective, remember that there are certain advantages to equivalent paid services.
3. Paid Password Managers
In terms of core functionality, paid managers do the same thing as paid ones; they just have more features. Many, including TrueKey, RoboForm and aforementioned LastPass allow users to use the service for free – and pay extra to get more features or save more passwords.
This means you can always try a few services before committing to pay for one.
With paid services, you also get more flexibility in terms of using or not using the cloud. If the idea of keeping your passwords on your device scares you, you’ll find it easy to find a paid password manager that uses the cloud; a rare option with free apps.
4. Other Methods
Some people write their passwords down on post-it notes. Others memorize their passwords. Both methods are a little risky; they do protect you from online hackers to some degree, but can also backfire if you forget or misplace your password!
One thing you do not want to do is use a simple password like “12345678” or “qwerty”. This might seem like obvious advice – but in 2015, 2 million leaked online records were analyzed, and guess what?
“123456” and “password” were the most commonly used passwords in the hack accounts.
Granted, that’s probably why they were hacked, but still; anything you do is better than using a supremely guessable password!
Now – you really have to think how do you store and manage your passwords? And how do you feel about the dangers and costs of leaked or stolen information?
I suggest everyone to choose the best suitable solution for them to manage their passwords.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.