Password Managers: What You Need to Know
(AARP) – When it comes to passwords, is your desk a sea of sticky notes scrawled with cryptic numbers and letters, or can anyone who knows your dog’s name and your three lucky numbers access everything from your bank balance to your Facebook profile?
Yes? Well, you are not alone.
Passwords are needed for just about everything we do in our digital life, but keeping them straight is a challenge. We’re not supposed to use the same password for all our online activity — because if someone guesses or hacks it, they now have access to all your accounts — yet we’re not supposed to write passwords down either.
So, what to do?
Consider a password manager
As the name suggests, a password manager helps you easily create, store and recall passwords. Many of them are both a website and an app, so you have access to all your passwords regardless of what device you’re on.
There are a few popular password managers to choose from — Dashlane, 1 Password, RoboForm, True Key, Keeper, Sticky Password, Last Pass and ZOHO Vault, to name a few — and they’re generally free to start and easy to use.
In most cases, you set up an account by providing your name, email address and a “master” password to enter your digital locker. Once you’re inside, you may see familiar logos for some of the most popular brands on the web, including Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, PayPal, Amazon, Dropbox, Netflix, eBay, Reddit and so on. Or you can create your own for, say, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), favorite news site, bank site, online games or any other place you need a password to use.
Once you tap one, such as Facebook, you’ll be prompted to enter your username and password once, and now it’s stored here for good. In fact, with most of these password managers, you can tap the logo to launch and log you into the app or site in question, thanks to its “auto-fill” feature.
Because most password managers sync your information in the “cloud” (online), you’ll have access to everything, regardless of the device you’re logging in to. Therefore, if you add a new password on your smartphone, and then sit down at your desktop computer later, you’ll find that everything has been synchronized.
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