Safety comes first. Whether it’s planning for a cross country road trip or making an online purchase, you have to consider what the risks are, and how to avoid them. With every risk, though, comes the opportunity for you to protect yourself from it in order to do the things you want. When you’re online, that opportunity comes from the use of an online password manager.
People use their information, including passwords, credit card info, and yes, even more personal data, to accomplish tasks online every day. Doing your taxes, business transactions, or buying a new TV from Amazon all require personal information — and therefore, should be done with the help of a platform that keeps you secure. But what about these programs helps users secure their passwords and other sensitive data?
First and foremost is the idea of encryption. When data is encrypted, that means that rather than seeing plaintext like you’re reading now, a computer (and unauthorized users) can only see or detect a vague, hidden form of that data. It’s protected by a code, a cipher, that is handled and translated by an “encryption key”, a vast and protected string of characters that tells your computer how to hide your information as “ciphertext”. While there are numerous different types of encryption, the goal remains the same: plaintext that’s readable by unwanted viewers becomes converted into seemingly random strings of characters that are only decipherable using the encryption key that your password manager has. Password managers store your information in this way, locked behind a virtual vault door that only your own login information will open. Because of this powerful and simple method of protection, encryption and secure storage are truly at the heart of password management software everywhere.
Any top-tier online password manager has a feature that proves very attractive to businesses and individuals alike: “zero-knowledge architecture”. Ensuring that safety isn’t simply a “matter of trust”, zero-knowledge integrations consist of client-side encryption, meaning that when you store information on the servers of a password manager, it will be encrypted using your end of the program. There’s no possible way for the hosting server to decrypt the information, and therefore their knowledge of your stored information is effectively zero.
“Host-proof hosting”, as it’s also called, refers to the fact that a user need not worry that the host storing their data has access to the information in a compromising way: it’s “host-proof”, thanks to said encryption protocols and the verification methods in place that replace a general knowledge requirement for password input.
In the same vein of zero-knowledge encryption and storage, there are ways to ensure that messages and shared info are shared without compromising the security and sensitivity of this data. Secure sharing, as it’s known, makes the dissemination of contracts, digital media, and yes, even shared passwords, completely safe from prying eyes of any kind. This means that you and your recipients are the only ones to interact securely with the data in question, and that only those you trust will have access to the assets and information that matters most. Need to share a multi-user account password with a user you trust? This is the way to do it right, using a password manager as the go-between.
Weakness and Leak Identification
Whether it’s a weak password or the leak of sensitive information to the web, it’s important to know when you need to act. Many online password managers have the ability to verify passwords for strength and best practices, and to alert you when the password you’ve created is problematic for security purposes. In addition to this, your secure information may have circulated the web without you ever knowing — and in this case, it’s best to find out as soon as possible so you can act preventatively. A password, an address, or even your social security number, all attract the wrong kind of attention on the web, and yet, only with leak detection from an online password manager or the like will you find this information floating around. When you know what’s out there on the web, you can fight back and make it harder for identity theft or other breaches to occur. Have something in place to find those leaks as soon as possible.
2FA and Biometrics
With each new measure in cyber security comes a new practice from hackers and cybercriminals looking to breach that security. As such, it’s important to have multiple precautions and measures in place, rather than just one. Whether it’s an API authenticator through an existing account of yours, or a record of your fingerprint, these can prove just as valuable as a password — and when used in tandem with one, can improve your security by a staggering factor. This is called two-factor authentication, or 2FA, security, and it’s the preferred way to keep cybercriminals at bay for the long haul. When you allow the requirement of 2FA for logins, you ensure that only someone with your password AND another identifying key can access your information. It’s not enough to have broken in with your stolen phone — a person will need your fingerprint or face ID to get past these defenses. Biometric logins are one of the more popular and convenient ways to accomplish a 2FA, but you can also require multi-device logins, such as with an automatic code generation. Whatever you choose to use, just be sure that it makes sense for your security needs; make sure these multiple factors, passwords and all, are unique to only you.