Image: 1Password If you’re using a different password for all the sites and apps you’re signed up for (and you really should), there are only so many combinations of letters and numbers you can hold in your head at once. The good news is there are plenty of tools out there to remember your passwords and secure them for you. Here are five of the easiest to use.
Use your browser
All modern browsers have some kind of simple password management system built into them. In the Chrome browser, for example, it’s on the Settings pane behind Show advanced settings and Manage passwords; in Firefox, look under the Security tab on the Options page; Opera, Safari, and Microsoft Edge all have similar built-in tools into their respective settings.
What’s more, the mobile versions of these apps carry the same passwords and logins over to your phone. On the latest versions of Android, for instance, some apps can even tap into these saved passwords (so the Netflix app can pull your password straight from Chrome). If you want to see all the passwords Google/Chrome is storing for you, then open up this page.
If you are going to use your browser’s integrated password-saving capabilities, make sure your mobile or computer user account is protected with a master PIN or password, otherwise anyone who sits down with your device is going to have access to Facebook, Gmail, and any other sites that have auto-login enabled.
1Password covers Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS, and it will set you back $US5 ($7) a month or a one-time fee of $US64.99 ($87) (there are slight differences between the two options). If you want to try it out first, there’s a free trial available for the desktop. To its credit, it’s quick and clean and keeps your crucial login details behind super strong AES-256 bit encryption.
Browser extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera to enable you to log in to the websites you use most with a single click, and on mobile you can choose to have a fingerprint keep your details safe rather than a master password. If you’re stuck for some password inspiration then 1Password will even think up a secure one for you.
It stores more than passwords, too. You can save notes, bank account details, credit cards, router login codes and more inside the digital vault that 1Password sets up. It’s simple enough for just about anyone to use and gives you the option of keeping your credentials stored locally on one specific device or syncing them across several trusted devices.
Dashlane can remember your passwords, fill out online forms, and act as a digital wallet as well. What’s more, it’s free, though you can sign up for a premium account ($US39.99 ($54)/year) to get web access to your password vault and sync your login info across multiple devices. Dashlane works across Mac, Windows, all the main browsers, Android, and iOS.
Logging in is quick and easy no matter what platform you happen to be on and Dashlane will even remember multiple logins for you if it needs to. There’s also a handy one-click password changer should you want to change up your credentials up after a certain period of time (or in the wake of a significant security breach somewhere on the web).
AES-256 bit encryption keeps your data safe from prying eyes and we also like the Security Dashboard feature that rates your ‘password health’ (or essentially how crackable your passwords and accounts are). Again, there’s a password generator included and the option to keep your info stored on one machine or synced across several devices at the same time.
LastPass is always near the top of most password manager round-ups and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s intuitive, elegant, and free to use if you only need it on one machine (unlimited sync on unlimited devices is available for $US12 ($16)/year). It can also securely store notes for you as well as passwords, like the other two programs we’ve mentioned.
Again AES-256 bit encryption is the security protocol of choice (you can see there’s not much to choose between these packages) and LastPass will run happily on just about any platform, including Linux. It primarily works in your browser of choice (whether on the desktop or on mobile), but there are dedicated apps for Android and iOS available as well.
As with 1Password and Dashlane, a fingerprint can be used in place of a master password on mobile devices, and again, it will recommend strong passwords for you if you can’t come up with them yourself. Passwords can be changed automatically too. LastPass was one of the first genuinely useful password managers to appear and it’s still going strong.
If you haven’t already, you should switch on two-step verification on all the accounts that support it: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and many others. It adds an extra layer of protection when your credentials are used on a new device, so an intruder needs more than your password and username.
That something extra is typically a code sent to a trusted mobile number that you’ve previously set up, or a code generated by an authenticator program that lives on your phone. It’s not infallible, and it’s a little inconvenient if you sign into a lot of new devices on a regular basis, but it’s worth the effort to add some additional protection. Plus, Google just made it much easier.
All of the password managers we’ve mentioned above support two-step verification (sometimes called two-step authentication or two-factor verification) so you can still swiftly log in as normal even with the extra layer of security in place. You can find help with two-step verification from the various apps you’re using.