Online Attacks are Real. Your data is in the cloud behind your usernames and passwords; this is the world in which we live. Stop for a minute and think about how many times you log into one application or another throughout the day. Almost every aspect of your life has an online component with a login: from banking to health care to school. Hackers are out there trying to get access to as many usernames and passwords as possible. If they can compromise just a fraction of those accounts, they wreak havoc and steal a lot of time and money. Sounds dire, but frankly, it is just our world.

Why I Use One. Despite the caution above, I do not want to give up immediate access to my data. I love being able to call up an app to grab what I need in a moment’s notice. It is just the way that I go about my day, so I need a way to mitigate the risk of our online world. The best way to do that is to secure my passwords and make them very difficult to hack by using a password manager…all 315 of them.

How They Work. The concept is quite simple. The password manager stores and maintains all my passwords, so I do not have to remember them. I must only remember one master password that grants me access to the rest of them. When I access a website or app for which I have a password stored, I am prompted by my manager to login. I have no idea what the password is, but my manager populates it successfully. Super simple and very effective.

Some Added Benefits. Along with password management, most of the applications in this space also securely store other information: credit card information, bank routing numbers, social security numbers, and important notes/documents. Like the passwords, this information is encrypted and stored securely. When I need my credit card or banking information, I do not have to run for my wallet; I have it on my computer in a secure fashion that can be populated directly into the website.

Another added benefit is the password review tools. Most of the products consistently check your passwords against each other to make sure you are not reusing them and against public lists of security exploits and compromised websites. The tools proactively notify you to change your passwords when there is an issue.

Providers. There are a few major players in the market. Most of them have the same benefits. In many cases, you can complete a trial to determine which one best suits your needs. Below are links to a few providers, but you can find many more through a simple search.

  • 1Password: Super easy to use and offers plans to individuals, families, and businesses. This is my current password manager.
  • Dashlane: I have never personally used this one, but I have friends and colleagues who love it. Also offers plans to individuals, families, and businesses.
  • Keepass: This is the only free manager on this list. I recently became aware of its availability, and it is getting some good reviews on the Internet.
  • LastPass: Offers a free version with limited functionality and offers multiple plans to meet your needs. I have used this product before, and it met all my password needs.

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