Password Managers

 

If you are not using a Password Manager of some sort, you should be.   There, we said it.  Manually managing passwords is a pain, time consuming and if you lose where you store your password, it is going to take a lot of time resetting them. 

 

A lot of people store their passwords and important information in their contacts on their phones.  That used to be a fairly secure place, but not anymore.  Android OS has a lot of vulnerabilities and the IOS is the constant target of hackers.  Other than using the same password or a variation of the same password everywhere, keeping your passwords in your contacts is probably the 2nd most insecure place to store them.  If that is the case, why are Password Managers safe?  Unlike paper or your phone, good Password Managers cannot easily be compromised, and many have “vaults” to store stuff besides passwords, like combinations, SSN’s for your family, Codes, whatever.

 

A good Password Manager that you take the time to learn and can be backed up, will save you time and, because it is saving you time, it will save you money.  That alone is worth getting a Password Manager!  Add to that the increased possibility you WILL NOT have accounts hacked or your identity stolen if you use one, makes it a no-brainer.  Several sources state that the average individual not involved in IT or complicated business transactions, have between 40 and 60 passwords.  For people involved in IT or business, the number of passwords can be upward of 250.  With everyone, some passwords are shared within a household or business, so it is a good idea when looking at password managers to consider one that can share passwords. 

 

Stealing passwords is one of the holy grails for hackers.  Every day some company is losing data.  It’s only a matter of time before some of your passwords are compromised.  Knowing if they are compromised and being notified to change passwords is another VERY important feature some Password Managers have incorporated. 

 

It is our goal to present the options associated with Password Managers in an unbiased, reasonable manner for you. 

 

The best Password Manager may take a while to learn.  Plan on spending 10 minutes a day with it for a week.  By the end of a week you may perceive it as inconvenient to use.  However, like any quality tool, once you get over the learning curve, they are indispensable and can give you an edge over your competition.  Before you give up on a quality password manager, consider the amount of time it takes to change a password you forgot, or the amount of time it will take to fix your email if it has been hacked because of a weak or compromised password.  Also consider the amount of time it takes to fix a credit card account that gets hacked due to compromised passwords.  With a good password manager, no two logon passwords will be the same.  Getting from having 3 or 4 passwords to having no two alike will take some time, be patient.  There are a lot of other examples of how a good password manager can save you time, try to imagine a few.

 

There are over 400 password managers of some type or other on the market so chances are, there is one that will fit you, your family, or your business’s needs, maybe all.  Some do not really qualify as password managers. They are:  Password enforcers, password changers, trust managers, single sign-on managers, browser extensions for password management and document encryption managers.  Some password managers are written to integrate with another programs, so they do not really qualify as anything near a full-feature Password Manager.  Even taking all the ones out that are marginal Password Managers, we still found around 200 that could be useful.  We used Capterra Search to identify the basic qualities that we felt were needed in Password Managers to compare.  That still returned over 100 that had features for business and that seemingly could work “stand alone” without being tied to another program or service.  We whittled that down to 63.

 

Why Not Use Your Browser Password Manager?

Most web browsers offer at least a rudimentary password manager. (This is where your passwords are stored when Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox ask if you would like to save a password.) This is better than reusing the same password everywhere, but browser-based password managers are limited, do not work across all browsers and devices, plus they are a pain to backup.

 

What should you use?

The reason security experts recommend you use a dedicated password manager comes down to focus of the product. Web browsers have other priorities which does not leave much time for improving their password manager, and if they did, like Google did with their Identity product, they may charge for it.  For instance, most browser password managers will not generate strong passwords or enforce strong passwords, allowing you to use "123456 or Password” when you are in a hurry.  Dedicated password managers have a singular goal, which is to protect you from password theft or compromise.  They have been adding helpful features to their programs for years, which leads to better security and features.

 

What we did.

As we said, we chose 100 password managers to evaluate.  In evaluating them we removed 44 for one reason or another.  We kept one in the list that really is not a password manager, Duo, because it is the leader in its market segment, and it does have some features that are notable that everyone should be aware of.  To evaluate the password managers, we analyzed other reviews and the company’s documentation.  If it was an APP, we downloaded them and tried to set them up.  If we could do it in 10 minutes or less, we kept going.  If not, we stopped and uninstalled them.  All the leaders could be set up in 10 minutes or less if you are paying attention and in front of a PC with your phone.  The ones that were software or complicated hybrid installs we analyzed user reviews and reviews by other testers.

 

What we expected.

This project was to provide a view of a lot of password managers so people could make informed judgments as to which ones to try.  We expected to end up with a bunch of information and build graphs and do analysis with clear winners. 

 

What we found.

Unknown to us, managing passwords is the tip of the personal security iceberg. Declaring a clear winner is difficult because they try to achieve different goals.  Some that are highly rated and easy to use may not meet your needs, so we did a feature chart to help narrow down the options to what may be best for you.  PLUS there is a Whole LOT MORE to password managers than just managing passwords.

 

Knowing if your personal information and passwords have been compromised is important.  Some Password Managers include dark web analysis and alerting to fill in that missing bit of information to protect you.  A general statement would be - there are very basic password managers, but for a little bit more you may have better features that are easier to use.  Don’t settle for cheap.  The password manager market is competitive, keep it that way.  Have no qualms about switching platforms. 

 

What is best?

We can honestly say there is not one Password Manager that does it all, and if there were, it would be a pain to learn.  Albine Blur is unique with a slightly below average password manager with a twist, they have virtual credit cards and cell phone spoofing along with a document vault.  For more features, but no credit card or cell phone spoofing,  LastPass, Password1 and Keeper are reasonably priced, in the industry, full-feature, Password Managers with dark web analysis.  Password Boss is similar to Keeper and LastPass with easy and advanced features.  For team features, choosing is a bit more difficult, but Avatier or LastPass Business should be near the top with the “New” Hypervault possibly setting the standard for business in the summer of 2021.

But there are other Managers to consider:

  • Dashlane Premium, which is considered by many as the premier password manager on the market and the price reflects it.  It is significant that few people leave Dashlane once they use it for a while.

  • NordPass Premium is affordable and reliable.

  • BitWarden free version is not rated very good, but the pay one is acceptable.

  • Roboform Business is the low-cost leader for a basic password manager.

 

What about Free???

Yes, there are free versions of many of these quality password managers, but we did not analyze what was offered free.  You find out about the free details at https://www.capterra.com/search/.   Most free password managers have some “catch” to get you to upgrade to their paid version or are complicated.  A general statement would be “try the free but understand you may be buying it soon”.