Remembering passwords is part of life in the digital age – we need them to contact friends and family, shop, bank, watch movies and listen to music. The average person has passwords for 23 different online accounts: that’s a lot to remember.
Password Managers take the stress out of managing your logins by creating new passwords, remembering them all for you and filling password fields in automatically when you visit a site.
“Passwords can be randomly generated and encrypted so they are safe from hackers and you need to only remember your master password," says Marc Vos, senior manager at security expert McAfee.
"This saves time and ultimately reduces the risks of your passwords and personal information falling into the wrong hands."
How does a password manager work?
A password manager is an app or a computer program that can store multiple passwords and keep them safe using encryption software.
All passwords are stored behind one master password, which you choose and only you know. Once you're logged into the password manager, when you visit a website, the password manager enters it automatically. Password managers can even suggest secure passwords for new websites.
Passwords are stored in the cloud on secure servers. Because they are stored in the cloud, as long as you’ve got the password manger application downloaded, it will work across different devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones and across different web browsers like Chrome, IE and Firefox.
Why use a password manager?
1. You only have to remember one password. Instead of racking your brain trying to remember a password for a specific website or digging out a notebook where you've jotted them all down, a password manager will store them for you.
2. They are easy to use. Once you’ve set up a password manager you can sit back and relax. They work in the background, so, you don’t have to do anything. When you launch a website or app that prompts you to enter a password, it completed the field automatically.
3. Password managers are safe. Thanks to encryption software that protects your account information and keeps passwords secure, using a password manger is far safer than using the same password across all accounts or storing all your passwords on your phone.
How to use a password manager?
Once you’ve decided which password manager you are going to use, you’ll need to download the app to your phone and/or the software to your computer.
When you initially set up your account you’ll need to select a master password which you use to log into the password manager.
You can also log in using your fingerprint if your device supports it. For extra security we’d recommended setting up multi-factor authorisation, which means you’ll need to pass two types of security check - one knowledge-based and one biometric, for instance - to log in.
Once you’ve chosen your password and set up your account you can start adding websites and entering your existing passwords into the password manager. Then, when you visit a new website, your password manager will suggest strong passwords and will save them automatically.
How do I choose a password?
Passwords mangers take the pain out of remembering numerous passwords, but you still need to choose a strong master password in order to keep them all secure.
Despite warnings to ensure our passwords are strong enough to defeat hackers, many of us don’t heed password advice.
Common password mistakes people make include writing them down, choosing basic passwords or using the same password for all accounts – none of which are safe.
123456 and password top the 2018 worst password lists**. Websites like How Secure is My Password show you how long it would take a hacker to crack your password and offer advice on how to make your password stronger by making it longer, mixing up letters, numbers and special characters, and avoiding words and phrases that are personal to you, making them easier to guesss.
When choosing a master password, it's good to use a combination of random words broken up by numbers.
The video below from Get Safe Online includes tips for choosing a password. For more advice, read 8 tips to make sure your passwords are strong but simple to remember.
Which password manager should I use?
There are lots of password managers available, but if you are BT Broadband customer you can use TrueKey, which is part of your free BT Extras.
Developed by security experts McAfee, it works on Mac, Windows, Android and Apple devices and Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari (for IOS) browsers.
A free version which can store 15 passwords is available to everyone, but BT customers can get five McAfee TrueKey licences - worth £19.99 each – so you and your family members can each have their own versions. With the premium version, you can store passwords for an unlimited number of websites and apps.
Are password managers safe?
Password managers use strong encryption software which scrambles your passwords to keep them safe from hackers. True Key uses something called AES-256 encryption, which is industry standard and represents the strongest encryption available.
To ensure your password manager is as secure as possible, choose a strong password and set up multi-factor authentication.