The importance of password management
When you’re using weak passwords, or in the worse case, even reusing the same weak password across many services, you’re risking a lot. Hacks happen more often than you would thought.
Honestly, how well is safeguarded your main, personal email? You know, the one you created many years back and haven’t reviewed since?
Email is arguably the center of our digital lives – imagine what damage could one do if they could access it.
That’s where password managers come into play to save the day.
How password managers work
Contrary to their name, password managers don’t only take care of your passwords. They are a useful tool to keep many of your digital secrets safe:
- logins to online services
- personal information (name, address, phone number etc. for shopping purposes)
- credit card info
- and even secure notes and attachments
Password managers strongly encrypt all these sensitive information and make them very accessible as well. Many of them come in various formats – web-based, as plug-ins for web browsers, mobile and standalone apps.
The main benefit of using a password manager lies in the fact, that you won’t need to ever again reuse or remember your usual password(s), however long and secure you think they are.
With a password manager, you will be free to use different and ridiculously long and secure passwords for each service separately.
Are you using 2-factor authentication (2FA)? No problem – password managers can take care of those very elegantly as well.1
In practice, all you will ever need with a password manager is only one, but very secure and long password to open it 2.
When I choose my software, I always prefer those that are open source (think transparent and auditable code, so that there’s not any funky business happening behind the curtain) and as multiplatform as possible (available on ideally all operating systems in case I want to switch).
Bitwarden excels in all of these. As a nice cherry on top, it’s perfectly usable in it’s free plan, so it won’t make a hole in your pocket.
Seriously, if you’re still not using any password manager, now is the time to jump in. Your digital security and possibly your future self will thank you greatly!
Secure password generator
Let’s start with the obvious. Password managers, like Bitwarden, can generate strong passwords. And by that, I mean ridiculously long and complex passwords like:
Are your current passwords anything like this?
So why not to treat yourself to a nice 70+ character password combining the weirdest symbols available? 3
What’s even better is that you
can should have a different password like this for each of the service you’re using. This way, even when the worst happens and the service gets compromised, the attacker can’t exploit the same password on other services you use.
That’s why using the same passwords everywhere is a very bad idea.
So how do you handle all these various long passwords for each site and app?
Every time you visit a page for which you have a password saved in Bitwarden, you’ll get a notification that allows you to use it instantly. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Bitwarden on your phone or in your web browser (via plug-in).
With this approach, not only it saves your time and energy to type in your password, it also prevents you to mistype them.
As mentioned before, Bitwarden takes care of your other digital secrets as well. The same auto-fill feature applies to credit cards and your personal information (e.g. by auto-filling your name and address when shopping online).
Nobody forces you to use all that though. However the option is there if you need/want it.
Of course it also works the other way around. Let’s say you just signed up on a new site. Bitwarden recognizes the form and asks you if you would like to save your login details right away. Effortless!
I think that should all give you a nice overview of how password managers work and why you definitely need one. Many password managers exist, but Bitwarden is my personal favorite for all the reasons I mentioned.
With a free plan, it doesn’t cost you anything, except for a bit of your time to go through your services and change their passwords to a unique and secure ones. You can do that gradually, but the sooner the better.
To help out with that, Bitwarden offers a nifty feature called Reused Passwords Report, where you can easily see all the services that still share the same weak passwords:
Do I sound like I’m pushing this too hard? Maybe I do.
This is seriously one of the most impactful things to do in the increasingly digital age. I write all of this from my personal experience.
So, do you really need more reasons to level up security of your digital identities?
As with every open source software, it’s a nice idea to support the developer giving away their product transparently and for free. Bitwarden’s premium plan costs humble $10 a year and adds some nice features on top of everything mentioned so far:
- Two-step login (2FA) into Bitwarden itself via hardware security keys (Yubikey, FIDO U2F, Duo)
- Support for 2FA one-time codes (TOTP) for password entries
- 1 GB of encrypted file storage (think attachments for your password entries and other)
- Warm feeling for supporting the developer :)
Although 2FA code support is included only in the Bitwarden’s Premium plan (at affordable price of $10 per year) ↩
You can secure your password manager even further with use of 2FA like hardware security keys (e.g. Yubikey) ↩
Be aware though – some services actually limit their password length, so you might need to trim it down sometimes ↩