How To

How a password manager can help secure your passwords


Authored by a Symantec employee

 

Let’s say you have 25 different online accounts. That means you should have 25 unique — and complex — passwords to manage. And since you know better than to write them down on sticky notes or in a notebook, what are you supposed to do?

A password manager may be just the solution. But what are they, how do they work, and how secure are they? Let’s try to answer some of those questions.

What is a password manager?  

A password manager is a program that houses all your passwords, as well as other information, in one convenient location with one master password. The benefits to using a password manager are:

  • A password manager will do the work of creating the complicated passwords you need to help protect your online accounts.
  • You need to remember only the password manager’s password. That single password will give you access to all of your others.
  • Many password managers offer the extra layer of protection of two-factor authentication. As a result, each time you attempt to log in to your password manager, a unique, one-time verification code is sent to your mobile phone. To complete the log-in process, you must enter the verification code, in addition to your username and password.  

Are password managers secure?  

Since some password managers are heavily encrypted, it can be a smarter alternative to store your passwords in a password manager than it is to store them in a file on your computer. In the event of a malware attack, the documents on your computer could be encrypted or stolen.

Despite attacks on password managers in recent years, the security benefits of storing your passwords in an encrypted environment can outweigh some of the risks of keeping passwords on your computer or written down in a notebook.  

How do password managers generate strong passwords?  

Not only do password managers help securely house your passwords, but they can also generate passwords that are unique and complex, which makes them more difficult to crack or guess. To do this, password managers use encryption algorithms.

These algorithms can be difficult to understand. What’s most important to know is that you should use a different generated password for each login to keep your information out of the hands of hackers. Every algorithm-generated password includes a combination of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers, which are unpredictable.

When you generate a new password through a password manager, you’ll have the option to make it as lengthy and diverse as you like, without the need to remember it yourself. You need to select the criteria that are required of your password, typically provided by the site that you’re logging into, which could include password length among other requirements.  

We generated five passwords with the same criteria with Norton Identity Safe, which resulted in extremely diverse sets of numbersand symbols:

  • misp8?epRE_aPr0+ra4E
  • &imiclwrobr5p-lqedRe
  • ge#&6O2ajLwAce$L8#ef
  •  xe=E1es-7@IPOcUse0ak
  • stE3rE4ru2Orich8@aDR  

As you can see, password generators can help you create passwords that are unique, complex, and difficult to guess, making your logins as secure as possible.  

Not only will a password manager provide a strong password, but it can also simplify your life by making account access easier for you and more difficult for hackers. If you’re considering a password manager to help protect your personal information, consider Norton Identity Safe. It’s a free password manager that makes logging into your favorite sites easier and more secure.  

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