What is a password manager and how does it work?

Between all the varying capital letter, number and letter length requirements for passwords, it’s no wonder people struggle to keep track of all their different login details. So, if you aren’t prompted to enter in your mother’s maiden name – if you even remember that – how are you possibly meant to remember the login?

Canstar Blue shares a few tips on how you can keep track of all those passwords.

This year, CERT NZ is running a Cyber Smart Week (14-18 October 2019) to show how New Zealanders can safeguard themselves against security threats.

CERT NZ is a government body that is designed to support New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses to better understand and stay resilient to cyber security threats.

A main option that CERT NZ recommends to remember passwords is using a password manager. So, let’s explore what a password manager is and how it works.

Password management tool: What is it and how does it work?

A password management tool, or password manager, is like an online safe that stores and manages your passwords for you. You’ll still have to remember a password, but only the one master password to gain access to your password manager.

So, how do password managers work? Think of a password manager as like an online collection of post-it notes of all your various passwords, except a lot more secure. That’s because the password manager encrypts all your passwords, so no one else can access them. A password manager will also allow you to create random and unique strings of characters that you can use as passwords for your online accounts.

But you can store more than just your passwords in a password management tool; you can also store your digital records, such as your security question answers or two-factor authentication backup codes.

How to create a safe master password for your password manager

While using a password manager significantly cuts down the number of passwords you need to create and remember, there is still the small detail of choosing a master password so you can access all your other login information.

CERT NZ provides three main tips when it comes time to creating a master password:

  • Choose something unique.
  • Make it long and strong – try using a passphrase rather than a password.
  • Don’t use personal information that would be easy for someone else to guess.

“Remember Me” is not the same as a password manager

Most browsers, like Internet Explorer or Chrome, have a built-in password manager. You’ll often notice this as a pop-up that asks whether you want the browser to remember the password for you. While this can seem like an easy option, to save you trouble the next time you log into an account, it is not as secure as using a password manager.

Browsers will generally store your passwords on your computer. So, if you leave your computer unattended or unlocked, other people could easily get access to your password details.

How do you choose a password management tool?

There are lots of password managers available, both free and for a cost. A good place to start is to check some online reviews, to see which one is the most suitable for you.

According to technology, culture and science website, CNET, here are the best password managers of 2019:

  • LastPass
  • 1Password
  • Bitwarden
  • Dashlane
  • Keeper
  • KeePassXC

Read more on CNET’s reviews of password managers, here.

You can choose to install a password on your computer, or go for a cloud-based one.

However, if you do decide to go with a locally stored password manager, make sure you back up your computer regularly. The means your password manager will be protected in the event of it getting deleted, or if your computer needs to be restored after a cyber-attack.

On the other hand, there are many advantages to using a cloud-based password manager:

  • It’s a good option if you use a shared or public computer.
  • You can sync your data between different devices.
  • You can access your cloud-based password manager by either going to a website or by installing a browser plugin. If you use a plug-in, it will prompt you to access your password manager when you go to a website’s login page.

So, what about my broadband connection?

If all this talk of online password managers and logins has got you thinking about your broadband connection, we’re sorry for opening up another can of worms!

We all have different requirements when it comes to our broadband and navigating the market can be time consuming – not to mention confusing.

Canstar Blue rounds up customer satisfaction ratings of broadband providers, to help give you a starting point. If you’re thinking about signing up to a broadband provider, or switching from your current one, use Canstar Blue’s free comparison tools.

Compare Broadband providers

Share this article