Passwords are your first line of defense against the hackers. There are certain fundamentals of good password hygiene.
- Long passwords are better than short passwords.
- You shouldn’t reuse passwords.
- Use a different password for every distinct account.
Each of these principles ultimately means that any given person with good password practices will have hundreds of unique username and password combinations that would be impossible to commit to memory. This means everyone needs a way to record these passwords safely and securely. About 1 in 5 people rely on password managers to do this for them. There are many advantages to password managers. Password managers can be installed on all your computers and cell phones ensuring you have access to all your passwords where you need them.
Password managers can alert you when you are using a weak or compromised password or when you have reused a password. Some password managers will not only alert you when you have reused a password, but if you have chosen a password that has been found in a password database. Password databases are large collections of passwords that hackers compile, share, and use to perform password cracking via brute force password cracking or password spray attacks. Password managers can suggest passwords that no one has ever used.
Password managers can also provide “break the glass” access to your vault for your beneficiaries (for personal accounts) or colleagues (for business accounts) in the event you are incapacitated due to death or some other emergency. This can ensure loved ones have access to finances and other important services that are behind a login screen. Similarly, colleagues would have access to accounts to keep vital services running at the college.
The system administrators in ITS use and recommend LastPass. If you purchase a professional LastPass account you can get a free family account that will allow you to share passwords with every member of your family. It will also allow you to set up who would have “break the glass” access to your vault. There are other reputable password managers to consider like 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass, and Bitwarden, for example.
While it may seem dangerous to trust a single service with so much, it is the consensus of security professionals that it is less risky than the alternative. The alternative is generally to use poor password hygiene, use weak passwords, use common passwords, reuse passwords, or store passwords in an insecure fashion. If a password manager service is compromised, it will help to have all your accounts and their usernames and passwords in one place so you can as quickly and thoroughly change these passwords as possible.
For more information on family as a benefit with LastPass check out these links: