I ♥ password managers

Have you ever struggled to remember a password, or to think of a secure new password on the spur of the moment? Have you ever been tempted to use the same password for several purposes?

If you have, you need a password manager. But how does this help? Simple: it remembers your passwords, so you don’t have to. That’s really important:

  • Every password can be unique – no more danger of someone stealing all your accounts with just one password.
  • They can be secure and complicated, but without the hassle – so you can stop using the date of your cat’s birthday.
  • They can be there when you need them, in your web browser and apps.
  • It frees up your mind for something more fun.

The important message here is – use a password manager! But which one? Any popular, reputable one will probably be fine. Here are a few possibilities.
In the cloud. There are lots of these, and the University provides free use of one called LastPass. It’s highly rated for ease of use. As for its security, you might want to read the LastPass disclosure of a recent security incident and judge for yourself. (Well done, LastPass, for being responsible and mature enough to make that disclosure.)
Built in to your web browser (such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari) or into your computer. Many web browsers have a password manager built in. Not only do they remember your passwords, but they can also suggest a good new password when you need one. Sometimes your passwords can be shared between your devices – Apple devices can do that, for instance.
A standalone program on your computer. This is the approach we take on DICE Linux. We provide keepassxc. I think it’s great, because:

  • It’s an open source project, so there are lots of eyes on the code.
  • It stores your passwords in a single file in your own filespace, so you can control where you put that file. (Keep backup copies somewhere safe and separate.)
  • Its password file can be used on practically any type of computer, including phones and laptops.
  • The highly-regarded Electronic Freedom Foundation publishes a guide to using KeePassXC.

Finally, our computing help site has a help page on password managers.

I hope this helps, and feel free to comment.

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