What is a password manager (and what is it not)?

Password managers are a convenient way of, well, managing your passwords. This is fairly straightforward, but there are software that manage passwords – but are not in my mind password managers. For example, operating systems and browsers have password “rememberers” that store passwords for you, but they are not necessarily stored in an encrypted state. So while they offer slight convenience, there is no benefit to security because the information is kept in plain text – sometimes even if there is the option for a “master password”. For this reason it is not recommended to use these, but to opt for an actual password manager. Examples of these password “rememberers” are:

  • Internet browsers that ask you if you want to save your password (e.g. [Internet Explorer][wikipedia-internet-explorer], [Mozilla Firefox][firefox-homepage], [Google Chrome][chrome-homepage], [Safari][safari-homepage])
  • Apple’s [Keychain][what-is-keychain-access]
  • Linux Password and Keys

These are but a few examples, and is recommended not to use these because as mentioned earlier, the details are stored in plain text. What this means is that if someone gets access to your computer, they will be able to extract them and read them as if you typed them into Notepad.

So then if all these are not password managers, what are they? Password managers are actually dedicated programs, browser add-ons or websites that are designed to securely store passwords and login information. The benefits of using proper password managers are primarily convenience and security through:

  • Storing login details (and other information such as form auto-fill data) securely by encrypting everything with a master password
  • Allowing you to create much stronger passwords and different passwords for each website / service

For recommendations on which password manager you should be using, see our post here.


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Thanks for reading!

[wikipedia-internet-explorer][https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Explorer] [firefox-homepage][https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/] [chrome-homepage][https://www.google.com/chrome/] [safari-homepage][https://www.apple.com/safari/] [what-is-keychain-access][https://support.apple.com/guide/keychain-access/what-is-keychain-access-kyca1083/mac]

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About Braeden Mitchell

Braeden is currently studying a Master's in Information Security and freelancing as an IT consultant

Sweden https://cyklon.solutions

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