How to Securely Store Your Passwords and Protect Your Online Accounts
If you’re following best password practices and using a unique one for every site, remembering them all can quickly become a near-impossible task — especially when you consider that the average person has 100 of them! In this article we discuss your options for making storing and protecting your passwords easier, but first…
Why is it important to securely store your passwords?
We use passwords for pretty much all our everyday online tasks such as online banking and shopping, posting on social media, checking emails, and ordering groceries. With so much of our personal and financial data tied to these accounts, if a password for just one of them were to fall into the wrong hands, the consequences could be catastrophic. Here are a few of the things that could happen:
- Steal your money — Someone with access to your bank account could transfer all your money out before you even have the chance to take reactive action. The resulting financial loss could take months to recover from.
- Identity theft — If a cybercriminal were able to gain access to one of your social media accounts, your email account, or another online account containing a lot of personal information, they could potentially use it to get credit cards in your name, steal your tax refund, pretend to be you if they get arrested, and lots more.
- Impersonate you — If a hacker was able to control your email or one of your social media accounts, they could message your friends, family, and colleagues while pretending to be you. It would be really easy for them to scam them out of money or personal information and send them damaging and tough-to-explain messages.
So, what are the options for securely storing passwords?
Here are three of the most used methods:
Write them down in a notepad
While it’s easy to brush this one off as inherently unsecure, if it enables the use of a unique, secure password for every site, it does have some merit. If you can guarantee that your notepad will always be stored in a secure location away from prying eyes and potential thieves, storing your passwords in a notepad is certainly better than using “password123” for every site. Still, it’s nowhere near as secure as the two other options below.
Use a browser password manager
All the popular web browsers feature built-in password managers, and they have some very compelling benefits. For starters, they’re all free, so there’s no need to part with any cash. They’re also super convenient — you can configure them to remember your passwords for every account and log you in automatically.
However, they only work on one browser, so if you regularly use more than one, they might not be your best option. They also don’t have the full-featured password generation capabilities of the next option.
Use a dedicated password manager app
Dedicated password manager apps are hands down the best way to store your passwords. Their built-in password generators enable you to have secure, customized, exceptionally tough-to-hack passwords for all your accounts. They can log you into all your online accounts just like browser password managers and most of them come with very feature-generous free plans, too.
You will need to remember one password to log in to the app, however. Typically, this password will need to be long and very strong, and if you lose it, regaining access to the app can be difficult.
Looking for the best password manager? Click here.
It’s easier than you think
Juggling dozens of unique, complex passwords can seem like a daunting challenge, making it easy to fall into the trap of using the same password across tons of websites, but there are so many great password managers available — the majority of them offering exceptional free versions — that there really is no excuse for bad password management! Download one of our top picks and start practicing perfect password management today.