Most sites require long and complex passwords with capital letters, punctuation marks, and numbers to protect your information best. While added security benefits are understandable, keeping track of the complicated passwords used across dozens of websites and applications can be easier said than done. Studies estimate the average business user has 100 passwords to keep straight.

A password manager can be an excellent investment for those who struggle to keep track of passwords across dozens of sites. These programs are securely designed to create and keep strong passwords organized, and both businesses and individuals alike can use the protections. From safeguarding confidential corporate content to securing personal banking logins, a password manager can be valuable.

The Benefits of a Password Manager

The biggest advantage for individual and business password manager users is improving online safety by removing the need to remember complex passwords across countless sites. But there are other added benefits to using a password management system, including:

Auto-generates secure passwords

With the growing risk of cybercrime, ensuring passwords are secure and hard to guess is more important than ever. However, creating distinct yet memorable passwords that include capital letters, lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers for every site with registration is easier said than done.

A password manager can take the pressure off of password creation. When signing up for a new site or service, your password manager can suggest a randomized password that meets specific platform requirements. This password will be stored within the program’s memory, resulting in the implementation of a password that is hard to crack but easy to access.

Alerts you to phishing sites

Phishing sites, or fraudulent ones posing as legitimate sites to steal information, are common on the web. Those who fall for phishing sites can put personal and financial information at risk, opening themselves up for potentially dangerous attacks or even a stolen identity.

Password managers can reduce the risk of falling victim to online traps. As the data associated with these is site-specific, your password manager won’t auto-populate information when you visit an illegitimate site. This can stop you from entering a username and password into a phishing site, preventing this common cybercrime.

Helps you remember all of your passwords

If you’re tired of trying to remember passwords across countless sites, you’re not alone. However, a password manager can help circumvent this common burden by securely storing your username and password combinations so you don’t have to rely on memory alone.

When you visit sites or open programs stored in your password manager, password information can auto-populate. This makes it easy to log in anywhere without remembering passwords. Even if you go years before revisiting a particular site, your password manager will ensure you always have access.

Sync across all your devices and operating systems

As many people with multiple devices know, a password saved on your computer may not auto-populate on your phone. Different memory systems will fragment your access to passwords, creating a logistical headache that can complicate using the same services across multiple devices.

Luckily, some password managers work across devices, providing a way to unify password use for a more effective approach to accessing websites. Passwords implemented across all your devices can be secured in one convenient location, simplifying the process of creating and using passwords.

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Types of Password Managers

Password managers come in a few different shapes and sizes to best accommodate individual needs. The three most common types are desktop, cloud-based, and single sign-on (SSO).

  • A desktop password manager is among the oldest and most popular options. This kind of app encrypts and stores passwords directly on your machine, limiting the potential for breaches. But these products can only be used on a single machine — a limitation for those with multiple computers and mobile devices.
  • A cloud-based password manager can be accessed from any device, regardless of network or location. This makes all passwords readily available from anywhere, offering ease of use otherwise unavailable. Security is left in the hands of the password management provider, though, which can increase the likelihood of potential breaches.
  • SSO password managers are most common in a corporate setting. With this tool, all websites and accounts required can be accessed using SSO instead of different usernames and passwords for different services. While diversity is generally recommended for security, SSO products generally consolidate passwords on all related platforms, like a variety of work sites hosted internally.

What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication, commonly abbreviated as 2FA, provides an extra device or program security layer. Most 2FA setups include two of the three following categories:

  • Knowledge, like a PIN or password
  • Possessions, like a key fob or app that generates a secondary code
  • Personal qualities, like fingerprint or face ID

By requiring two of these conditions instead of a single password, breaking through a site or platform’s defenses becomes more challenging.

How Does a Password Manager Work?

A password manager is a third-party program that creates and manages passwords on your behalf. Instead of remembering your passwords or using the same ones across multiple sites — a tactic not recommended due to the increased likelihood of unauthorized account access — this tool can do the hard work for you.

To start, you must choose your desired product, sign up, make any necessary payments, and download the software. This will usually require adding an extension to any browsers you use. If you would like to sync a cloud-based password manager across devices, you may also need to install a phone or tablet app on your mobile device.

When you sign up for a new website, your password manager will suggest a complex password and store it so you don’t have to remember it. The next time you visit the site, the program can automatically populate your login information — you don’t have to manually enter long and complicated passwords for every site you visit. If you do not want a password manager to create or store a password, you can disable this function on a site-by-site basis.

If you need to access a full list of passwords within the password manager, this is usually accessible as well. This can be a helpful way of viewing passwords to log in on a different device when using a desktop or browser-specific password manager.

How Much Does a Password Manager Cost?

The cost of a password manager can vary, but usually starts around $3 a month. Some password managers require a monthly fee, while others can be purchased for a year upfront for $40 to $50. Many programs offer a free trial so you can evaluate features and functions before committing. Some desktop password managers can be purchased in full for a one-time fee.

Free password managers are available, but using these products can be riskier or less convenient. For example, Google and Apple both provide a password manager. Yet some managers can only sync between devices when you use the same browser or operating system, creating a less-than-efficient solution.

Further, free products are generally less focused on encryption due to a reduced user investment, which can increase your personal information risk. Some platforms come in free and premium versions with tech support and storage space prioritized for paying members. Choosing a free or paid option depends on your personal management needs and security risk tolerance.


Frequently Asked Questions About Password Managers

  • What is a password manager and how does it work?

    It is an app on your phone, tablet, or computer that stores your passwords so you don’t need to remember them. You log in with a master password, and it generates and remembers your passwords for all accounts.

  • Is it a good idea to use a password manager?

    Password managers are recommended for proper password management and advanced security protection.

  • What are the disadvantages of a password manager?

    With access to all your passwords protected by a single strong password, an attacker could potentially gain access to all your passwords with one hack of your password manager.

  • What is the point of a password manager?

    Password managers encrypt user passwords and provide security. Also, these tools can alert you when credentials have been part of a data breach or phishing attempt.

  • Do password managers get hacked?

    These tools can get hacked like all other forms of software.

  • Is it worth paying for a password manager?

    It is a safer investment to pay for a password manager than to use a free one.

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About The Password Manager, Gunnar Kallstrom:

Kallstrom, The Password Manager, is a Cyber Team Lead for a Department of Defense (DOD) contracting company in Huntsville, Alabama, and has worked as a Computer Network Defense (CND) Cyber Analyst. An author and content creator for a cybersecurity academy, Kallstrom spent nearly 15 years in the Army as a musician before entering the cybersecurity field.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Thomas Edison State University and a master’s in organizational development and leadership from the University of the Incarnate Word.

Kallstrom has completed several Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) courses, including Security+, Network+, A+ Core 1, and A+ Core 2. He earned a CompTIA Security+ Certification. Additionally, he has completed the Cyber Warrior Academy program with more than 800 hours of hands-on, intensive, and lab-driven technical training in cybersecurity methods and procedures.

Passionate about all things cyber, Kallstrom was a speaker on a panel at the 2022 InfoSec World conference, giving a talk entitled “Hacking into a Cyber Career – True Stories.” Kallstrom is also a mentor to entry-level cybersecurity candidates seeking to break into the field. When he’s not working, he still enjoys playing guitar and fishing (not phishing).