CranstonIT has long been beating the drum about the value of a password manager.  With data security now everyone’s concern, it’s just too critical a tool for any organization to be without.

As you may know, a password manager is a software app used to store and manage the passwords that a user has for various online accounts and security features.  These apps store the passwords in an encrypted format and provide secure access to all information with the help of a single master password.

For security reasons, considering today’s often nefarious Internet, CranstonIT recommends you use a password manager (such as iCloud Keychain®, 1Password or LastPass, as examples) to generate, store and enter strong passwords in your web browser.  Any other approach risks your accounts being hacked.

IT managers and individuals alike often think all they need to keep their online accounts secure is to create a single password with some numbers.  And since many people don’t believe they have much to protect — or that they would be targeted by hackers — they reuse the same weak password across multiple sites.

Such an indifferent approach is extremely dangerous in today’s world.  First, no one is explicitly targeted.  The bad guys hook passwords by stealing them by the millions from websites with lax security.  Then they use sophisticated hardware that can sweep more than 350 billion passwords per second to decrypt as many of the stolen passwords as possible.  In fact, any password less than 13 characters can easily be cracked by such technically proficient hardware.

Do your employees occasionally shop online at work?  Imagine one (or two or 10) has a password on a shopping site whose passwords are stolen.  The attackers can log in to that site, change shipping addresses, order items with stored credit cards and, oh by the way, potentially compromise the security of your business data along the way.

Hackers will use automated software to try that username and password combination on lots of other high-profile sites: Google, Apple®, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, many banks and, oh by the way again, potentially compromise the security of your business data along the way.  If they can get in anywhere, they’ll take over the account and exploit it in any way they can, which could involve stealing money, ordering goods, or using it to reset passwords and lock you out of other accounts.

Use a password manager to generate, store and enter strong passwords, one for each site, and you’ll never have any of these issues.  A sufficiently strong password (16 characters minimum, but we recommend 20 when possible) will withstand cracking efforts for centuries.  And if you have a different password for every site, even one password being compromised won’t expose any of your other accounts to abuse.

Here then are five reasons for using a password manager:

Generate strong passwords.  A password should be random, or it should be a long collection of words (think 30+ characters).  Password managers can generate such passwords for you, so it’s easy to create a new one for each website.

Store passwords securely.  If you’re going to put all your eggs in one basket, you want that basket to resemble a vault.  Password managers employ their own strong encryption and various other techniques to ensure your passwords are safe.

Enter passwords for you.  No one wants to remember and type long, random passwords, but having a password manager enter the password for you is even easier than typing a weak password.  And you’ll log in faster than ever before.

Audit existing accounts.  Password managers learn the credentials you use for existing accounts.  They can tell you which passwords are weak and which have been reused.

Access passwords on all your devices.  It’s even harder to type passwords on an iPhone® or iPad®, but good password managers have apps for mobile devices that sync with your password archive.  This means all your passwords are available whenever you need them.

There are several different password managers available.  If you use only Safari® on the Mac® and in iOS, Apple’s built-in iCloud Keychain® feature may be sufficient.  But if you want to share passwords with your team or workgroup, CranstonIT recommends 1Password.  Using 1Password, we can ensure all your passwords are securely managed and encrypted, and further ensure your business data is never compromised.  1Password also offers add-ons for non-Apple browsers like Chrome and Firefox.

Your data security has always been a priority at CranstonIT.  Along with helping you install 1Password, we can also help you generate ongoing, consistent and secure data backups.  For more information, contact CranstonIT at 888-813-5558 or support@cranstonit.com