The Key to Remembering Passwords? A Password Manager

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In the old days, you only had to worry about someone lifting your wallet. Now, you've got to worry about them lifting your whole financial life.

Managing website passwords is a thankless job you didn’t ask for yet can’t afford not to do. You have identities and passwords for online banking, email, shopping sites (such as, entertainment sites (such as Netflix and Hulu), utilities and a host of other places.

While it may seem as if you have a lot of passwords to remember, recent research from credit monitoring agency Experian suggests you may actually use far too few passwords for the number of places you visit.

“The majority of internet users consistently use a small set of user names and passwords to secure multiple different accounts; including social media, email and online shopping sites,” said Experian Global Identity and Fraud Director Hugh Steed in a presentation to the Merchant Risk Council EU Congress in Seville, Spain, last May. “People have on average up to 26 online accounts protected by only five different passwords. This greatly increases the risk that fraudsters can use data stolen from one source to successfully access other accounts held by the same user.”

In addition, you need to not only have a different password for each account, but each of those passwords also needs to be “strong.” (For a look at the world’s weakest passwords, check out this article: “World’s Worst Passwords: Did Yours Make the List?“) This means you need to have an incomprehensible string of letters, numbers and characters if you want to avoid being hacked.

That’s all fine, but how are you going to remember all that strange gibberish you created for a password? Plus, having to type in “54%happyTB#1” is a real drag when you’re in a rush to bid on that eBay auction ending in 50 seconds.

Fortunately, we have an answer. It’s a password manager, and here are six of the most well-known.

1. LastPass

  • Price: Free for basic version, $12 a year (or $1 per month) for the Premium version supporting shared use by up to five people, tech support and 1 GB of encrypted file storage
  • Supported operating systems: Windows, Apple, Linux
  • Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge
  • Supported mobile devices: Apple (iOS), Android, Windows

This password manager offers broad support for use within desktop web browsers – or dedicated apps on Apple iOS devices, Android phones and tablets, and Windows 10-based laptops, desktops and tablets. Like other managers, LastPass uses a special encrypted master password that, in theory at least, ensures your password data is accessible only by you. The free version of LastPass will automatically fill in passwords, generate strong passwords when needed and create one-time passwords for certain uses. Spring for the premium version, at $12 a year, and receive 1 GB of encrypted file storage, priority tech support and several other benefits. LastPass also offers a “Teams” subscription (for companies with 50 or fewer employees) and an “Enterprise” version (for businesses of any size). Each of the latter options is priced per user, with a $4 monthly fee per user being the highest price.

2. RoboForm

  • Price: Free version for consumers with unlimited logins and password support, $19.95 annually for premium version, per user or site license pricing for organizations.
  • Supported operating systems: Windows, Apple, Linux
  • Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge
  • Supported mobile devices: Apple (iOS), Android, Windows

RoboForm is great for helping you when you’re filling out the same kind of form repeatedly. Let’s say, for example, that you decide this is the year when you’re going to enter every online contest you can find. RoboForm is a great tool to fill in all the entry blanks. Many of those form-filling functions can also be found in the latest browsers, so you could also use RoboForm for its password management functions. Like LastPass, it requires the use of a master password, and it will generate and fill in strong passwords for you. It will also enter your information into forms as needed, which can simplify shopping when buying from a new site.

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