Posted: Wed 23rd Feb 2022
In today's digital world, it isn't unusual to need security passwords for dozens – if not hundreds – of apps, websites and software programs. If you're clued up on cyber security, you'll be using long, complex and unique passwords for each of your accounts.
But where do you store them all? Memorising so many is out of the question, and you already know not to write them down anywhere. Fortunately, there's a password manager to help you.
What is a password manager?
A password manager is an app and/or browser extension that helps you protect your log-in details, passwords and, in some cases, other personal information such as credit-card numbers.
How do password managers work?
They are very straightforward. You download the app to your device, or add the extension to your web browser. Then you simply enter all of your passwords and data into the password manager, and it keeps the information fully secure.
All you need to memorise is your password for the password manager itself.
Why do I need to manage my passwords?
When a hacker breaks into someone else's account, it's often by using automated software tools that can try thousands of password combinations every minute until they eventually land on the correct one.
Those combinations are usually compiled from lists of frequently used passwords, dictionary words or perhaps details from your own life (like a pet’s name). This is why you must never use common or predictable passwords.
On top of that, you should never employ the same password across a number of different accounts. It's bad enough having one account breached without giving away the key to several accounts at once!
What features do password managers provide?
Most password managers have the basic features needed to keep your passwords secure. These include:
2-factor or multi-factor authentication
flagging when passwords are weak
Some password managers go further by building in even stronger security features such as:
managing passwords for apps as well as websites
sending you alerts when any websites you visit have been breached
When sizing up password managers, look for the following security features to make sure your passwords will be fully protected.
A key feature of any password manager. Gone are the days of obvious passwords like PASSWORD123. Long, complex passwords are an absolute must. They should be near-impossible to remember and unique for each account.
Instead of trying to come up with an uncrackable password whenever you create a new log-in, simply use a password generator to instantly provide a perfectly complex password. Avast has a free online Random Password Generator you can use to get a feel for how these tools work.
2-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication
Some apps and websites – and all good password managers – employ special features to make sure it's you logging in and not someone imitating you. The features they use are either 2-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA).
2FA asks for two types of proof of your identity, such as a bank card and a PIN
MFA asks for two or more types of proof, and these can be categorised as "something you know" (such as a password), "something you have" (such as a security key) and "something you are" (such as your fingerprint)
To be effective, the log-in credentials must each come from different categories. Two passwords would not be enough for 2FA, for example.
Password managers use 2FA and MFA to provide stronger security. Some even include the ability to sign in with a fingerprint or face ID.
As most of us use a number of different devices – laptops, desktop PCs, tablets and phones – being able to synchronise your passwords across all of them is crucial. Look for a password manager that has this function built-in.
Automatic password updates
Not all password managers offer this very useful feature. The ones that do will automatically and instantly update your password whenever a website you use has been hacked.
This means your password is changed to something extremely complicated before a hacker has had chance to break into your account.
Typically found in the best password managers, this feature adds extra functionality to your web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The browser extension should make your online experience both easier and more secure at the same time.
Some password managers include a digital wallet feature. This lets you store your credit card numbers and other payment details, so you can make online purchases easily, quickly and securely.
What's the best password manager available?
There are plenty of options to try, but it's worth keeping in mind that to get all the functionality and features mentioned above, you'll likely need to pay a subscription. Some password managers have free versions that are perfectly capable as long as you accept certain limitations.
Avast Password Protection is a privacy tool that secures passwords stored in your web browsers. It allows you to choose which applications have access to your saved passwords, and is available on tiers 2 (Premium Business Security) and 3 (Ultimate Business Security) of Avast Small Business antivirus.
Are password managers safe?
The simple answer is yes. Like any piece of software, password managers can technically be hacked. But by encrypting your personal information, and not storing your master password, they make it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for hackers to steal any of your valuable data.
Password managers are important cyber security tools that keep you safe online. Follow all the best-practice recommendations when setting up your master password, and there should be nothing to worry about.
About Avast Business
Avast Business provides simple yet powerful security solutions for SMBs and IT service providers. Backed by one of the largest, most globally dispersed threat detection networks, the Avast Business security portfolio makes it easy and affordable to secure, manage, and monitor business devices. The result is superior protection that businesses can count on. For more information about our managed services and cybersecurity solutions, visit www.avast.com/business.