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Why use a password manager?

With so much of your personal information online, your identity may be at risk. To help keep your personal details safe, you can install a password manager.

30 May 2022Andre Spiteri 3 min read
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Protect your personal details

We will notify you when your passwords are compromised.

Join ClearScore Protect

How do you remember your passwords? The average internet user has 27 accounts, which means that they have to remember 27 passwords.

Luckily, you don’t have to commit them all to memory. Instead, you can use a password manager. These apps keep your passwords organised and store them securely.

There are two good reasons to invest in a password manager. Firstly, they encrypt your passwords, which means they scramble it and it can’t be understood without a special key. This is safer than storing them in a document on your computer, or on a piece of paper you could misplace.

The best password managers use Advanced Encryption Standards, which makes it very unlikely that someone could make sense of the scrambled data.

Secondly, you only have to remember one password (the password manager’s password, or master password). This means you can make all your passwords as complex as possible without having to worry about remembering them.

Password managers also have other advantages:

  • They autofill login fields for you, so you don’t have to type anything. It’s quicker, easier and protects against keyloggers.
  • Many have tools you can use to assess how secure your passwords are and change weak ones.
  • You’ll get regular updates about possible security breaches so you can change passwords and keep your accounts secure.
  • You can share passwords with family and friends through the app. This is safer than giving them out over the phone or by text.

To further shield yourself against fraudulent activity, you can join ClearScore Protect. We scan the internet for stolen passwords and if we find yours, we will notify you of this and offer you tips on how to resolve it.

Password managers are secure because of their encryption capabilities. However, there’s a weak link. Your master password can still fall into the wrong hands because it doesn’t form part of the encryption.

Most password managers will let you log in using Touch ID or Face ID. This is when you use your fingerprints or a picture of your face to gain access to your device. By using these, you don’t have to remember the master password. Just make sure you store it somewhere safe, such as a locked desk drawer.

It’s also worth setting up two-factor authentication. This is when you verify your identity with a second device, such as your cellphone. This adds an extra layer of security to your account. Alongside your password, you’ll need a random, one-time code to log on.

The following five apps are some of the most well-known password managers:

  • Bitwarden
  • 1Password
  • LastPass
  • Dashlane
  • KeePass

All of these are fine choices. That said, you may be nervous about picking one at random. When making your selection, try to choose one that’s easy to use and offers the features that suit your needs. Here are three important questions you should ask yourself before making a final decision:

1. What’s their encryption model?

Most major password managers are cloud-based. This means that the data is stored and controlled online. The good thing about this is that your passwords sync across devices, so you’ll have them whether you’re on your laptop or your phone. The flip side is that, for this to work, they have to store some data on their servers, and servers can be hacked.

The best password managers use zero-knowledge encryption. This means they only store scrambled data on their servers. They won’t know and won’t have access to your master password. If a hacker manages to access the password manager’s servers, they won’t be able to make sense of the data.

LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password all use zero-knowledge encryption. KeePass isn’t cloud-based, which means there are no servers to hack. The trade-off is that it’s less convenient because it doesn’t sync across devices automatically.

2. What other security features do they have?

Zero-knowledge encryption is a good start, but it won’t solve everything. Your master password can still be hacked, so you should pick a password manager that will protect you from this risk.

The very best password managers have two-factor authentication. They’ll also:

  • Automatically log you off if you’ve been inactive for a while, so no one can get in when you’re not looking.
  • Ask you to retype your master password or an authentication code every so often to confirm your identity.
  • Allow you to change account passwords straight from the app.
  • Back up your password data, so you can restore it if something goes wrong.

3. What’s their reputation?

Is your choice reliable? Or does it have a history of data breaches and hacks? Googling the name of a password manager alongside the word “hacked” is a quick way to find out whether the password manager you’re thinking of using is as safe as its marketing material says it is.

Some password managers have gone the extra mile and commissioned security audits. This means independent experts have checked the app for flaws and confirmed it’s safe.

If you want to make sure you have additional protection, sign up for ClearScore Protect. We will warn you when any of the passwords associated with your main email address have been compromised.

Andre Spiteri Image

Written by Andre Spiteri

Financial Writer

Andre is a former lawyer turned award-winning finance writer.