Password Managers: A Primer

Man typing on laptop

Author: Kevin Kipp

"People are notoriously remiss at achieving sufficient entropy to produce satisfactory passwords." - Troy Hunt

Unfortunately, cyber attacks are on the rise. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, around 75% all data breaches are caused by Phishing. (1) These attacks can lead to the loss of confidential information, including financial data and usernames and passwords.

To make matters worse, people generally use passwords that are easy to remember, and therefore easy for an attacker to guess. How many of us are guilty of using a variation of the following passwords?

  • Season + Current Year (Example: Winter2020)

  • Model of your Car + 1234 (Example: Civic1234)

  • Website Name + Graduation Year (Example: Facebook2016)

How many of us are guilty of adding a “1” or “!” to the end of our passwords (Example: iLoveMoney1!)?

I hate to break it to you: This doesn’t actually make them more complex. (2)

What is the answer?

While there is no fool-proof method to eliminate Phishing altogether, one way to reduce your risk is the use of extremely complex passwords that are randomly generated, and unique to each of your accounts. Since humans’ value convenience over security, and the only secure password is the one you can’t remember (3), we should all be using a Password Manager.

What are Password Managers?

Simply put, a password manager will generate and store unique and complex passwords for all of your accounts. Instead of having to memorize or write down multiple passwords, the password manager will save them for you in a secure vault.

Instead of weak, human-generated passwords like “Winter2020”, the password manager will generate something like this: “u!K)Xq8mRYxM3N=h5”.

To unlock your password vault, you only have to remember one password, known as the Master Password. It’s recommended that your Master Password be a passphrase (4), such as “Lunch@12!Sandwich@Noon”.

Which Password Manager should I use?

There are a few different options to choose from, but the most popular are: