Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over two decades to helping users get the most from technology — whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera. Adrian has authored/co-authored technical books on a variety of topics, ranging from programming to building and maintaining PCs.
It’s May 5, the first Thursday in May, which means that it’s World Password Day. The day was created by security researcher Mark Burnett to raise awareness of the importance of having secure passwords.
Well, how secure are your passwords?
There are a lot of hints and tips and tricks out there for creating and maintaining secure passwords. I’m pretty comfortable with tech and keeping my accounts secure, but I find most of these tips too complicated to follow.
It’s better to keep things simple.
And I’m going to simplify things for you.
This is the 21st century, and people don’t need to create and remember their passwords.
My advice is simple — use a password manager.
What is a password manager? A password manager is an app, usually tied to an online service, that safely and securely stores your passwords. It’s also used to securely distributes these passwords to all your devices, no matter whether you are on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Good password managers not only store your passwords and securely transfer them to your browser or apps as needed, but they can also help you generate strong passwords, and even search the internet for any of your passwords that might be leaked on the internet.
Some password managers also allow you to secure your passwords with high-security features such as hardware authentication, making it almost impossible for hackers to get access to your data and informing you if you try to use duplicate passwords.
So, what are the best password managers?
My ZDNet colleague Ed Bott has a list of the best password managers, and it’s a good list. Of the services there, Bitwarden, 1Password, and LastPass are my top choices. They’re fully featured, offer solid security, and encompass a broad range of platforms and operating systems.
If you’re looking for a no-cost solution, the Bitwarden offers a free option, and even the paid option ($10 per year for a single user, $40 annually for a family of up to six users) is great.
But you might already have a password manager and not know about it. For example, if you use a Mac or iPhone, or iPad, then you can use Apple’s Keychain password manager. The only downside here is that you have to be on an Apple device to access your passwords, but it’s a superb solution for those in the Apple ecosystem.
If you use Google Chrome, then there’s a password manager built right into that. The downside here is that it’s quite basic, and you can only access your passwords from the browser.
Both these are great options. But they have their limitations.
So, my advice for World Password Day is that you make sure to use a password manager, not only to store your passwords but also to generate secure passwords when needed.
And secure your password manager with a good, unique password.
Also, a bonus tip — if your password manager tells you that you’re using duplicate passwords on different websites, or that one of your passwords has been leaked in a company data breach, then pay attention to this and take the actions that your password manager recommends, because using duplicate passwords or passwords that have leaked into the wild is a surefire way to get your online accounts compromised.