Seriously, you need a password manager. Here’s why and how to create one

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Angela Lang/CNET

As inconvenient as it may seem, each of your accounts needs a unique password made up of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. If you manage your passwords manually, it’s tempting to use an easy-to-remember code for everything, but the easier you make it for yourself, the easier it is for cybercriminals. Whenever you use a weak password or use the same password for multiple logins, you are putting your online privacy and security at risk.

Password managers are essential tools that can help you stay safe online and be more digitally secure by simplifying the steps for using strong passwords. And they’re easier to use than you might think. Again four out of five American adults does not use password manageraccording to a Security.org study.

We’re here to show you why you need a password manager and how to set it up.

What is a password manager and why do I need one?

A password manager is an online service that stores your passwords along with other data such as credit card numbers, bank account information, and identification documents in a secure environment through encryption military level. It takes one of the biggest potential vulnerabilities – weak or shared passwords – and does the hard work for you.

Bad password habits are dangerous for your digital security. Using weak passwords makes it easier for your accounts to be hacked, and reusing passwords leaves you open to credential stuffing attacks that can compromise accounts that share the same password.

But with a password manager, you only have to remember one master password, and the password manager takes care of the rest, allowing you to create strong passwords and unique for each of your online accounts. If you are not sure How to create a secure password, or if you don’t want to create one yourself, your password manager can create one for you. Many password managers also include a feature that scans your current passwords and lets you know which ones are weak or reused and need to be changed.

secret password written in hand

Sorry, but Password123 (or any variation of it) is not a secure password.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

You can also securely share passwords and sensitive documents with family and friends if you need to. And if you’re shopping online, you can easily fill in your credit card information to make purchases without needing to have your physical credit card handy.

Your password manager can also help you fight phishing scams. Even if a phishing attempt tricks you into clicking on a malicious link, it won’t fool the password manager. Your password manager will detect that the URL is different from the site you usually connect to, regardless of how it looks to the naked eye.

If you’re worried about storing all sorts of sensitive information in one place, you don’t need to be. The best password managers use a zero-knowledge approach to securing your passwords and other information you store with them, which means that even the password manager itself cannot access your passwords. or other data, as everything is encrypted before it leaves your device. And if your password manager can’t access your data, neither can anyone else.


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How to set up a password manager

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a password manager and create an account (CNET’s list of best password managers is an excellent starting point). Some password managers have a free tier that usually includes all the basic features you would need, but you can expect to pay between $35 and $60 per year for a premium plan that includes things like multi-device access, extended file storage and family. share.

When setting up your account, you will be asked to create a master password. This is the only password you need to remember – make sure it’s something you can remember, but quite complex make it difficult for others to guess. Also, make sure your master password isn’t one of your existing passwords that you already use on other sites. Some password managers, like 1Password, offer a printable “emergency kit” that includes information such as your username and digital key and where you can write down your master password. Yes, you can write your passwordjust be sure to keep the piece of paper locked in a safe place.

We really can’t stress this part enough: Don’t forget or lose your master password or your emergency kit because, as a security measure, password managers do not usually offer a way to recover it. If you’re locked out, there’s no way to get back.

1password-ios-faceid-lightmode

1Password is on CNET’s list of the best password managers.

1Password

Once you are all set up with your account and master password, you can download the software to your devices. Typically, you’ll be prompted to download the app for the operating system you’re using when setting up your account (iOS, Android, Windows, or MacOS). You can also find download links on your password manager’s website for any other device you want to use your password manager on. If your password manager offers a browser extension, install it – it will make it much easier to autofill your passwords on sites.

After that, you will need to add your passwords to the password manager. Most password managers offer easy ways to import your passwords from a variety of locations, whether it’s your browser, a spreadsheet, or another password manager. You can also enter your passwords manually.

Once you’ve uploaded your passwords to your password manager, you’re good to go. As long as you are logged in to your password manager, it will prompt you to enter your login information as you visit the sites and services you use online. It will also offer you to save new secure login credentials on new accounts you create, which will ultimately save you from putting your online security at risk.

For more information on how to protect yourself online, read five ways to protect your data, nine rules to protect against cyberattacks and how perform a cybersecurity check. And find out how two of the best password managers stack side by side.


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