What Is a Password Manager?

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With so many of our everyday activities now taking place online, the number of online accounts you have to juggle can be overwhelming. In theory, no one wants to get their online accounts hacked, especially when their personal information is at stake. In practice, however, Indians tend to be careless about online password security, with 80% of hacking attacks related to bad password habits.

Now that working from home and outside the safe confines of the office intranet is the norm, the number of passwords you need may have significantly increased. If even one of those accounts is compromised in a data breach, it doesn’t matter how strong your password is, as hackers can easily use it to get into your other accounts.

The safest method to save them, however impractical it sounds, is to memorise all your passwords. But with password measures being ridiculously complex (passwords should be long, contain an uppercase letter, a number, and a special character), memorising all of them can be a tough task. The solution is to offload that chore to a password manager, which offers a safe vault for every password of yours across all your online accounts.

What is a password manager?

Against the backdrop of a pandemic that shows no signs of halting, data theft in India has grown more rampant. The country registered a 37% increase in the number of data breaches in March last year when compared to the first quarter of 2019. Despite the increase in data breaches, Indians continue to adopt outdated practices and use weak password combinations, greatly placing their security at risk.

The overarching reason behind such behaviour is the difficulty of generating and remembering strong passwords. However, you can ease this burden by automating both those tasks with the help of a tool called a password manager. A password manager can provide a secure, automated, and digital way to both generate strong passwords and save them for you. It can generate a strong, new password whenever you create an online account or are trying to change a password, as well as store your passwords securely.

Password managers don't just stop there. They also come in handy for storing other vital and sensitive information such as credit card information and bank details. All users have to do is store all this information in the password manager and secure it with one master password, similar to a master key.

Why do you need to use a password manager?

India has been ranked one of the top countries that have been falling prey to data breach and theft. Also, India was recently plagued by a spate of variant brute force attacks, a method where hackers try out various combinations of usernames and passwords in an attempt to correctly guess yours.

That's not all. India is also experiencing a rise in phishing scams on websites and emails, with 72% of cyberattacks involving the use of phishing emails. Although websites are meant to scramble your passwords whenever you enter them, not all websites use strong algorithms to do it, which makes it easier for hackers to unscramble your password.

This is where password managers can help you by generating long and complex passwords that are infuriatingly tough for hackers to unscramble. Apart from that, password managers also relieve you of the daunting task of remembering multiple different passwords for your online accounts, and protect you from harm arising from a data breach, acting as a powerful way to keep out hackers.

Password managers also provide autofill options that allow you to obscure your passwords from onlookers and prevent credential stuffing attacks, where hackers use your user login details stolen from other less secure services or sites to log into other sites in hopes of gathering sensitive or personal information that can be used in other scams or attacks.

What makes a password manager safe?

Password managers enable users to practice good security hygiene by making every password unique and sufficiently complex. However, the underlying reason is that password managers, such as the one in ESET Smart Security Premium, make use of what is known as the zero-knowledge security model. What zero-knowledge security means is that while the password manager tool knows your passwords, the organisation that made it does not.

This model comprises 3 layers, namely the encrypted data of the users, the tool's password (which is not stored on the system), and the security key. These layers of defence all rule out any exposure to passwords and greatly reduce the risk of a password being stolen or being obtained by a cybercriminal. To learn more about password managers, click here.