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The only thing protecting your online accounts from cybercriminals are your passwords. If you’re like most people, you reuse the same weak passwords over and over again, creating a ticking time bomb that can explode at any moment and leave your personal information completely exposed.
Not convinced yet? Then consider that compromised passwords were responsible for 81% of hacking-related breaches in 2018, according to the Verizon Data Breach Incident Report. The number is so high because 65 percent of people use the same password for multiple or all accounts, as was revealed by a 2019 online security survey by Google.
Unless you want to become a cybersecurity statistic, you must use a unique complex password for each and every one of your accounts, and a password manager can help you accomplish this task and offer other important benefits.
Benefits of Using a Password Manager
There are many reasons why you should use a password manager. Let’s take a look at several of them:
- Remember just one password: With a password manager, you have to remember just one password to access your password vault. Other passwords can be either temporarily copied from the vault or automatically filled in by the password manager. Since there’s just one password to remember, you can make it more complex and thus safer.
- Use stronger passwords: Likewise, a password manager allows you to make all of your passwords bullet-proof because you don’t actually have to remember them. Instead of relying on various mnemonic techniques, using passwords based on familiar dates or the names of people who are close to you, there’s nothing stopping you from generating random passwords consisting of letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Easily log in to your accounts: A capable password manager should be able to fill in your login details for you—both on your desktop computer and smartphone.
- Share your passwords: When working in a team, sharing a single account with friends or family, it’s often useful to be able to securely share a password. A password manager can help you keep track of who you’ve shared your passwords with, so you can keep your security under control.
- Change your passwords in a timely manner: Security experts no longer recommend the use of expiring passwords. As long as you use a unique password for each of your accounts, you can keep using the password until there’s a reason to change it. Usually, that reason is a security breach, and a password manager with a breach notification feature can be the difference between a timely password change and a hacked account.
- Store sensitive information: In addition to passwords, password managers can often store other personal information, such as your credit card number, important contracts, or directions to hidden treasure.
Are Password Managers Safe?
The short answer is: yes, password managers are safe and you should use them to make it significantly more difficult for hackers to breach your accounts and obtain sensitive information from you.
The typical password managers stores your passwords in an encrypted database that can be decrypted only after the correct master password has been provided. Even if hackers managed to steal the entire encrypted database, they wouldn’t be able to extract any passwords from it.
As long as you use a strong master password and don’t write it anywhere, a password manager will always be much safer than reusing the same couple of weak passwords over and over again.
Top 7 Best Password Managers in December 2019
Bitwarden is our favorite password manager in December 2019 because it’s secure, free, and open source. It runs on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, and there’s also a web version that you can access from any device with a modern web browser.
To get started with Bitwarden, you don’t have to spend any money, but there’s also a premium version with a few extra features. For just $10 a year, the premium version includes 1 GB of encrypted file storage, additional two-step authentication options, password hygiene and vault health reports, TOTP authenticator key storage and code generator, and priority customer support.
However, even the free version of Bitwarden comes with everything you need to generate secure passwords, safely store them in the cloud, and access them from any device. Bitwarden encrypts all passwords with end-to-end AES-256 bit encryption, salted hashing, and PBKDF2 SHA-256, which are military-grade encryption standards used by governments around the world to protect some of the most sensitive information in existence.
LastPass is a popular multi-platform password manager with extensions for just about every browser. You can either use the free version of LastPass or purchase the premium subscription plan for $3 a month.
Upgrading to LastPass Premium unlocks emergency access to your most important information in case of an emergency, one-to-many password sharing, advanced multi-factor options, priority customer support, password autofill on Windows machines, and 1 GB of encrypted file storage.
Because LastPass has been around since 2008, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it experienced several security incidents in the past. What’s important, however, is that no security incident caused encrypted user vault data to be exposed, and LastPass was always quick to take appropriate measures in order to prevent similar incidents from happening again in the future.
Apart from being one of the most active YouTube sponsors, Dashlane is actually an excellent password manager that can offer polished user interface, friendly pricing, flawless autofill, multiple two-factor authentication options, and extensive knowledge base that explains all of its features and covers many additional security-related topics.
Unlike the previous two password managers, Dashlane more or less requires its users to purchase a premium subscription because the free plan is limited to 50 password entries, which may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t.
The premium subscription plan costs $3.33 a month, and it gives you unlimited password storage, the ability to synchronize your passwords across all devices, dark web monitoring with personalized alerts, VPN for Wi-Fi protection, and priority customer support.
KeePassXC is an open source password manager that allows you to securely keep an encrypted database with all your passwords on your Windows, macOS, or Linux computer. It’s actually a fork of another popular password manager, called KeePassX, which is a fork of the original KeePass.
KeyPassXC is completely free, and you can use it on as many computers as you want. Its biggest limitation is the fact that it doesn’t support password synchronization, so you need to come up with your own solution.
Many KeyPassXC users rely on Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive to keep their passwords synchronized between devices, while others use a USB flash drive or a networked storage device.
1Password is an elegant password manager that offers a value-oriented subscription plan for familiar that understand the importance of using strong passwords. It’s available across Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, with all version being equally easy to use.
1Password has an automatic form filler that allows you to sign in with a single click. The Watchtower feature proactively monitors password breaches and lets you know if any services you’re using has been compromised.
While you can try 1Password for free, there’s no free plan to choose once the trial period is over. The most affordable subscription plan costs $2.99 a month, but you should consider the more expensive family plan ($4.99), which let’s you share your subscription with up to 5 other people.
Enpass is a relative basic password manager with support for most platforms, robust password generator, and the option to protect your data using fingerprint or facial recognition. Enpass stores passwords locally on your device, but it also gives you the option to synchronize them via any cloud account, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box.
Enpass has a rather unique pricing structure, because it’s free to use without any substantial limitations on desktop devices but not on mobile devices. To store more than 25 passwords on a smartphone or tablet, you need to purchase the premium plan for $1.49 a month or $17.99 annually.
There’s also a one-time purchase option, which unlocks full access on mobile devices and desktop computers for a single fee of $53.99. We recommend you choose the one-time purchase option only when you’re 100% certain that Enpass is the right password manager for you.
KeeWeb is a completely free password manager based on KeePass. It has a great looking user interface with advanced search options, support for shortcuts, password history, tags, and the ability to include attachments simply by dragging and dropping them right to the app.
The desktop version of KeeWeb works on all major platforms, and the online version is accessible from any modern web browser. KeeWeb lets you open files from Dropbox, so you can easily synchronize your passwords across devices. Because KeeWeb always saves files for offline use, you will be able to retrieve your passwords even if something happens with Dropbox.