We use passwords on many different websites in modern life. You probably have several different accounts that you log in to using a username and password. For example, you may have:
- A Gmail address
- A Yahoo (or even Hotmail!) address, especially if you are of a certain age group 🙂
- A work or business email address
- A Facebook account
- A LinkedIn account
- A Twitter account
- A NetFlix account
- A WordPress account for your occasional blogging
- A PayPal account
- An account on an online learning platform (or two)
- An account for government services such as eCitizen
- An account on at least one shopping site such as Amazon or Jumia
- Pinterest, AirBnB,
This list could go on and on, depending on your activities online.
Experts recommend that you should use a unique password for each account. The reason is simply that if someone manages to get access to one account, they should not be able to simply use the same key to unlock your other accounts, so to speak.
Experts also recommend that each password should be fairly complex – at least eight characters in length and mixing letters, numbers and other symbols. This is so that your password is not only difficult for humans to guess but would also take longer for password-cracking software to crack. Attackers use software to go through various combinations of characters in an effort to get other people’s passwords. The longer and more complex a password is, the longer such software would take to crack it.
In addition, some websites used to insist that passwords must be changed every so often, but this is not common nowadays.
In view of the above, the problem becomes clear. Most people would find the task of coming up with numerous, unique, hard-to-guess yet fairly-easy-to-remember passwords a bit unrealistic. People forget passwords (or even usernames), especially if they don’t visit some sites very often. This often leads to people either using simple passwords, or using the same passwords on different websites, or even writing down passwords or hints of what the passwords are. Any of these approaches makes it easier for someone to get your password. While on the subject, it may surprise you that many people actually think of the same passwords.
Password managers to the rescue! A password manager is software that keeps your passwords for you. That is the main task. Many password managers can also fill in your username and password for you when you visit a site whose details you have stored before and they can generate for you strong passwords when you are signing up at a new site. Some can keep other information for you, such as credit card information. Of course, the password manager itself is password-protected and you, therefore, need to memorise this one password, instead of multiple passwords.
Using a password manager saves you the time and effort of thinking up, remembering and typing in passwords. You visit a site, the password manager fills in your login for you and you simply submit these and you are in. A password manager also saves you from resetting passwords every now and then if you happen to forget them.
One disadvantage, though, is that in the event that someone does gain access to the password manager, they could potentially have access to all your passwords. However, this risk can be reduced by including additional security (two-factor authentication) before one gains access to the actual passwords.
Also, you might need to remember at least one other password, that is, the password to the email address to be used to reset your password manager password in case you forget it.
We will not review password managers in this article, but here are some well-known password managers for your consideration.
Links open in a new tab.
- BitWarden – has a free option.
- LastPass – has a free option.
- DashLane – has a free option.
- KeePass. Completely free. For Windows (R).
- RoboForm – has a free option.
- Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox also have password managers.