By Ryan O’Ramsay Barrett
Being in IT, we hear about it all of the time. A client calls us in distress because they used the same password on multiple websites, social media platforms, and their email and now they’ve been hacked. The bad guys have access to several of their digital platforms, if not all of them, and things are a mess. The worst part is, the entire scenario could have been easily avoided.
One of the simplest and most commonly recommended cybersecurity practices promoted by experts to prevent problems like the one above is for people to use a password manager. Some are free and others cost a small annual fee but all of them are highly recommended over not using one at all.
What is a Password Manager?
A password manager is a type of software that assists in generating and retrieving complex passwords with the goal of improving your cybersecurity. One of the greatest issues is that most people either use the same password on multiple accounts or their passwords as just too simple. Using the same password for multiple sites can increase the risk that you will be hacked or that your business will experience a data breach. Overly simple passwords also make people more susceptible to being victimized by cyber criminals who would love to get their hands into our bank accounts, business data, and personally identifiable information (PII).
Consider a password manager as a vault of sorts, able to store multiple passwords in an encrypted database or produce them on demand. This means you don’t have to reuse the same password for various accounts, memorize them yourself, or write them down.
Regardless of how many passwords you have or how complex they may be, a password manager can keep track of them for you. Additionally, when you need a stronger password for a new account or to better secure an existing one, a password manager can generate a new, complex password for you.
According to MyGlue, more than 60 percent of all data breaches are the result of weak or stolen passwords. By using more complex passwords that feature uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals, and special symbols, that are unique to each of your accounts, you are protecting vital online information from credit card numbers to the answers to your security questions. Not only is this important in your personal life but it is imperative to your business as well. Password managers help by generating unique, complex passwords that will not be easily guessed by bad actors.
Another sobering statistic is that more than 30 percent of employees keep track of passwords by writing them on Post-it Notes, according to MyGlue. This is not a secure or suggested form of storing passwords. With a password manager, you only have to remember a single master password to access your “vault” with all of your passwords in one place.
Business efficiency is also improved with the use of a solid password manager because employees won’t have to waste time resetting passwords or searching for that sticky note that disappeared. There will also be a reduction in requests to IT for password resets.
Password managers can also simplify shopping. Payment information can be stored in your password manager so that it’s all at your fingertips when you are ready to shop online.
Risks of Password Managers
I know what you’re thinking. If a hacker gets access to your master password, that would allow them access to all of your accounts. Bad actors have also been known to breach the central vault of password managers. The good news is that there are defenses available to address both of these concerns.
First, any password manager worth its weight is going to employ multifactor authentication. This means that when you, or someone else, attempts to access your “vault” of passwords, you will be sent a text or email with an authentication code to log in. If someone were to steal your master code, you would find out via a text message or email. No one can access your credentials without having both the correct password and the right authentication code. This gives you time to change your master password and notify your password manager should a problem arise.
Vendors usually protect master vaults as well by encrypting your password information locally. That information is encrypted and stored, on servers operated by the vendors who, in most cases, employ some of the best cybersecurity measures available. Some of the free password managers don’t offer the same higher level of security that paid password managers do. Be sure to do your research before signing up with a company or touch base with us at Oram so we can recommend one that works best for your needs.
The Cost of Better Security
There are a multitude of password managers available. Some offer free versions but when it comes to the security of your business, remember that you often get what you pay for. With that in mind, at Oram we recommend paying for a password manager as many don’t cost much.
Most password managers offer some sort of free trial period and range from $12 per year to upwards of $50 a month. The cost may depend on the number of devices or users the program is being employed for.
What Oram Recommends
There are so many password managers available that it can be hard to choose one. Some offer features such as photo login options (a form of multifactor authentication), phone support, and use across a wide variety of operating systems. The two that we recommend to our clients are MyGlue and LastPass.
We highly recommend MyGlue because it offers so many options for a low price. First, as a business owner, you will know who accesses what password and when. MyGlue is easy to use, functions well with multiple operating systems and allows you to share training material with your team for the program so no one is lost. Finally, you can avoid hackers by using strong passwords that are secure, keeping your business information such as the PII of employees and clients and your proprietary data safe. MyGlue also employs the highest security measures available.
If MyGlue doesn’t fit your needs, LastPass is the next best option. LastPass works on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It offers a variety of subscription options from a single user to families, teams, and enterprises and all are quite affordable. With LastPass, you can simplify online shopping, store digital records, and share passwords and notes with others securely in addition to storing and generating passwords.
If you have lingering questions or concerns about the use of password managers, please call Oram today at (617) 933-5060 or visit us online. Our team is happy to help you select and engage a password manager that meets all of your business needs.