Secure your online life with password managers

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Here’s a universal truth of the internet age: constantly creating new passwords for various websites—and trying to remember them all—is the worst.

Despite hearing news about various breaches that compromise millions of accounts annually, we hardly think twice to use the same password on multiple websites. But this is not just due to ignorance.

Think about how much you use and depend on websites like Facebook, Yahoo, Target and eBay. Think of all the passwords you type into websites every day. It’s no wonder our mental list of logins, usernames, passwords quickly gets out of hand.

But many of the websites we most depend on have had massive data breaches (including the four above). Go browse through to see the websites where your account might have been compromised. Are you surprised?

Password managers have become more than a nicety—now they’re a necessity.

These services and apps allow you to save all your passwords in a safe, secured and encrypted space. You can use them to access sites from all your other devices too: laptops, desktops, mobile phones, tablets.

Password managers generate long, strong, randomized passwords. They are filled automatically when you visit each website.

LastPass and Dashlane are two popular password managers and offer many free services.

They store multiple passwords in a secure vault, either in the cloud or on your local device, that can only be accessed with a master password.

Cross-platform apps means your passwords can be accessed from your phone, laptop, or PC. The free versions limit the number of passwords that can be saved. The premium version costs $20-60 per year.

If you don’t want to pay for the premium password manager services, Chrome and Firefox offer password managers—chances are you’re already using them.

You can use saved passwords across your devices by logging into your Chrome or Firefox account.  One advantage? Unlimited, free passwords. The drawback? Passwords can only be accessed within the browser app in mobile devices, so they can’t be used to log in to other apps.

One concern often arises: what happens if the master password gets hacked and all my passwords are compromised?

This is a possibility. But the password manager services usually encrypt all the passwords before they save it in their database or on your local device storage. So even if hackers get your passwords, the encrypted nature of them make it hard to use them.

Browser password managers are especially weak in a hacking scenario, as they disclose all the saved passwords in plain text once the user types in their computer password.

That make two-factor authentication(2FA) extra important. Use it whenever it is available.

2FA requires an additional code to be entered to login to accounts. Codes are usually delivered to your phone via a text message. Even if your passwords are compromised by hackers, they cannot access your account information due to 2FA.

Don’t pass up the peace of mind that password managers can provide.