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Best Password Managers 2021 | The strategist

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Best Password Managers 2021 | The strategist

Photo: Getty / Corbis via Getty Images

Long gone are the days when you used your first child’s name and date of birth for all of your passwords. That’s just too easy to crack, say security experts. Instead, we were told to use a mixture of words and numbers – until that too wasn’t hard enough. After all, the instructions should contain seemingly random strings, numbers, and symbols. This resulted in a password that was difficult to crack, with one drawback: it was just as difficult to remember. However, with a password manager, you only need to remember one master password. The manager securely stores all of your other passwords for you so you can often access your passwords from any computer, tablet or phone. According to the security experts we consulted, this is the best option for protecting everything from financial data to drug store loyalty accounts. And considering that many password managers offer free versions, there’s really no excuse not to have one.

“Password managers are essential for everyone,” said Rachel Tobac, CEO of cybersecurity company SocialProof Security. She says it’s about “when, not if, one of the websites you use is breached”. At this point, “all services for which you use this password are at risk.” From January to March 2021, 51 million people had their data compromised, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of identity theft. Recent data breaches include McDonald’s, Peloton, and Volkswagen. Even so, a 2020 survey by credit rating firm FICO found that only 23 percent of Americans use an encrypted password manager. 42 percent reuse passwords for all accounts, and 17 percent of us only recycle two to five passwords for everything.

According to Tobac, one of the biggest fears among password managers is that storing all their passwords in one account with a single password would make them more vulnerable to data theft. She says that it is currently “computationally impossible” for hackers to crack the encryption of most password managers, so you can be sure that your passwords are safe in a password manager. Still: “If you need an additional layer of security for your security, I recommend salting your passwords. That means you store passwords in a password manager, but you have a special code that you add to any password that is not stored in your manager, ”she says. “After your password has been automatically filled in by the password manager, please add the code manually.” Even if a password manager is hacked, hackers will not be able to access your accounts as only you will know the extra characters.

Convinced? Good. Now all you have to do is choose one. Fortunately, Lorrie Cranor, the director of the CyLab security and privacy research institute at Carnegie Mellon University, says you can feel safe with just about any of them. “There are a number of great password managers out there, and it’s more important that people use one than what they are using,” she says. Topher Tebow, cybersecurity analyst at the international cybersecurity company Acronis, agrees. “Whichever route you take, any password manager is better than no password manager,” he says.

Karen Renaud, Senior Lecturer on Cybersecurity at the University of Strathclyde, recommends sticking with an established company (like 1Password or Bitwarden). The differences between these password managers are usually minimal. For example, some have special features for traveling, while others have slightly increased security. If you still can’t make up your mind, Leigh Honeywell, CEO of online employee security company Tall Poppy and a former member of the ACLU Language, Privacy and Technology Project, recommends choosing password managers who are quick to respond and have responded to a significant security review from the outside. For example, the password manager Keeper sued a journalist in 2017 for reporting a security flaw in the app. “That kind of attitude doesn’t help anyone be safer,” she says. “I would also advise people to carefully search the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for general terms like ‘password manager'” rather than looking for specific apps by name. There are plenty of unverified look-alike apps out there trying to pretend to be more established, more secure programs, she says.

After speaking to over a dozen online security experts, here are the best password managers for almost everyone, including you.

1Password-Password Manager

If you want a password with top-notch security, 1Password is your best bet. Yael Grauer, an investigative tech reporter at Consumer Reports who specializes in tech and privacy, says she likes that the user interface is easy to use and can generate passwords based on a user’s specifications. “You can add digits, symbols, or indicate that you want a password with words, which makes it easier to enter passwords that you can’t copy and paste or use the autofill feature,” she says. 1Password also has what is known as a watchtower, a feature that alerts users to reused, compromised, or vulnerable passwords, as well as any passwords for which multi-factor authentication is not yet enabled. Nitesh Saxena, a professor of computer science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who researches cybersecurity and applied cryptography, says 1Password has better security than competitors like LastPass and points to situations where password managers have been under the duress of law enforcement.

Dashlane Premium Password Manager

Dashlane Premium has a very rare and practical feature: you can change your passwords for your accounts right in the app. If you’ve signed up for a number of accounts with terrible passwords, Dashlane lets you change the password without visiting every website. Candid Wüest, Vice President of Cyber ​​Protection Research at Acronis, calls Dashlane one of the best password managers and says it has “interesting additional features”. Dashlane is one of the few options with identity theft protection, dark web surveillance and a VPN. It’s also easy to use, even for kids. “I use the Dashlane Family Plan so I can get my kids used to using a password manager, too,” says Cranor.

Note: Dashlane also offers a free version that works on one device and an Essentials version ($ 4 per month) that works on two devices and allows automatic password changes.

Bitwarden password manager

If you want a free password manager, Bitwarden is a good option, according to Wüest – although he warns that the optimal security you get from paid services is worth it. Our colleagues at The Verge also recommend Bitwarden, calling it the best free password manager. Although Bitwarden stores passwords in the cloud (as opposed to locally on your own computer), its data is encrypted and has been checked by an outside security company. Since Bitwarden doesn’t offer password checks or security breach reports, users should regularly monitor their password hygiene through free online sites like HaveIBeenPwned.com.

KeePass password manager

Although it’s less convenient because you have nowhere to access your passwords, a password manager that stores your data locally is your best bet if you don’t like the idea of ​​storing passwords in the cloud. Tebow says he used KeePass, a free, open source password manager, for years. “I could keep it on a USB drive and not have to worry about breaking the cloud service,” he says. A warning: this is not the most elegant option. Its interface is a bit dated, like an old Microsoft program from 2009. That means it takes a bit of technical know-how to use it properly. And while users can contact the developers with some questions not covered on the program’s FAQ page, there is better help in the program’s robust Reddit community.

If you don’t want to worry about a dedicated app, all you need are the free password management tools like Apple’s iCloud keychain or the managers built into your browsers, according to three of our experts. They have “made really big leaps in recent years,” says Florian Schaub, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, whose research focuses on enabling users to manage their privacy. Megan Squire, professor of computer science and cybersecurity researcher at Elon University, is a fan, as is Jungwoo Ryoo, professor of information science and technology at Penn State, who specializes in cybersecurity. “The passwords are always available as long as you are signed in on your preferred browser,” says Ryoo. Plus, they’re free, and some even offer multi-factor verification. Microsoft Edge’s password manager, for example, offers two-factor authentication via a PIN or fingerprint sensor and this year introduced the password monitor, which warns users when passwords have been compromised.

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