With this past week’s WannaCry ransomware scare I thought I would take a little time, again to write about how incredibly important password management is to the security of your data. Passwords are of course, inconvenient, time consuming and memory challenging which is why many people do not handle them seriously. However without good password management you are seriously taking a chance with your security.
I also wrote earlier this week that Microsoft is looking to kill passwords altogether for their services, however we are not exactly sure when that is going to happen and Microsoft not withstanding passwords are going to be around for quite a while yet… so you might as well master them.
Here are 5 of my favorite password management applications, each with a free option. My favorite is LastPass, however each will do the trick if you want to lock out the cyber-criminals from getting a hold of your data.
There are two versions of LastPass – free and premium. Both can store an unlimited number of account logins in a secure vault protected by a master password, will complete online forms for you automatically, and can employ multi-factor authentication.
The premium edition also syncs across multiple devices, stores passwords for desktop programs, and lets you share secured folders with other people. with customizable permissions.
One of LastPass’s best features is its ability to generate strong, unguessable passwords for all your accounts, which it then stores for you. There’s no need to remember long, awkward streams of characters, or re-use the same password for multiple accounts. It’s a class act.
Dashlane is LastPass’s most serious rival, and like LastPass it’s absolutely superb with strong password security, exceptional ease of use and ability to store notes for future reference.
In addition to the Windows desktop password manager, there are browser plugins and mobile versions, and as with LastPass there’s a premium edition of Dashlane that adds unlimited syncing and sharing.
The premium edition of Dashlane costs US$39.99 per year, but the free version provides all the essentials: you get the core password manager, autofill and digital wallet features, all of which work flawlessly.
RoboForm claims to be the world’s best password manager, though its free version only lets you store up to 10 logins and lacks the breadth of features offered by some of its rivals. If you need to store more passwords, a premium account costs US$9.95 for the first year, though the mobile apps are free.
It’s available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and is a good option for anybody who wants a simple and secure way to sync passwords between desktop, laptop and mobile devices.
RoboForm doesn’t have quite the same features lists as Dashlane or LastPass, but it’s a very good tool nonetheless and the free mobile apps are excellent.
It isn’t the prettiest password manager around, but KeePass Password Safe is both free and open source with strong security, multiple user support and a whole bunch of plugins to expand the app further.
The password manager is small enough to run from USB without installing on a PC, it can input from and output to a wide range of file formats and there are stacks of customization options to play with.
The fact that KeePass Password Safe is open source means anybody can inspect the code for potential weaknesses, which means that any security issues can be identified and fixed quickly. It’s a great little app, if a bit intimidating for absolute beginners.
Sticky Password comes from the team behind AVG Antivirus, so you can be confident that security is its top priority.
There are two versions of Sticky Password: free and premium. The latter adds cloud syncing and backup, and costs US$29.99, £19.99 (about AU$40) a year. There’s also a lifetime license available for $149.99, £96.99 (about AU$200) – an option not offered by any other premium password manager.
The app works on PC, Mac, Android and iOS, supports fingerprint authentication on mobile, is available as a portable USB version and offers lots of synchronisation options including Wi-Fi syncing with local devices. It doesn’t support the Edge browser just yet but it will once the Anniversary Update introduces extension support.
There you go. Give these a try. Anyone of them will help you lock down your accounts, secure your data and perhaps prevent a security disaster from impacting you. The time you spend doing this will be well spent… believe me.