In a guest post for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, William Allen, Information Technology Services’ On-Site Support for the University Registrar, explains how password management systems can help us protect our online information.
In our increasingly connected world almost everything requires an account with a username and password. With so many accounts how can we possibly remember them all? A common solution to this problem is using the same username and password for all accounts. Yes this is easy to remember, but not secure. If one account is compromised, any other account using that same username and password is compromised as well. Password managers provide a secure and user-friendly solution to that problem.
A password manager enables users to store a unique username and password for every account. Most password managers can even generate unique random passwords for the user. This information is encrypted and protected by a master password. Remembering one master password enables the user to “remember” all of their usernames and passwords—no more forgotten password resets needed. Password managers are not just for usernames and passwords; other information such as URLs and security question answers can be stored as well.
Password managers are available in two main types: local and cloud-based. Local password managers store the information in a file saved on the user’s device. With local managers the user is responsible for backing up the file and copying it to other devices if desired. Cloud-based password managers store the information on remote servers. Information in cloud-based managers is automatically backed up and is typically accessible by multiple devices. Two of the more popular managers are KeePass for local use and LastPass for cloud use, but there are many others to choose from.
Since data breaches have become a fact of online life, using a password manager is fast becoming a requirement to stay safe. One of the best ways to limit the impact of a data breach is to use a password manager—if one account is compromised only that one password must be changed and all other accounts are not impacted.
Protect yourself by picking a password manager and getting started today.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Visit ITS News throughout October for posts offering cyber security advice from experts and other tech tips. For additional cyber security tips and to check out the activities and resources associated with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, visit the national campaign’s website.