Password Management Tools – Security and Convenience in a Complex World

When our human nature Says – ‘No Way!’, there can be a simple solution.

We need security. We want security. We don’t want to be compromised. But who has time to mess with all this complexity? Besides, will this threat ever really make its way to me?

In response to the above, we say “Yes, Yes, Yes, and unfortunately, “Probably So!” (if not already).

Passwords that we can remember are usually weak, even our most complex ones. Why is this? Because we’re creatures of habit. Anything that is based on our logic has patterns that can be recognized. Even password combinations we think are random could reveal signs of our routine nature. It’s nice to know that, as technology moves faster than we can keep up with, we can deploy technology to work for us and balance the disadvantages we as humans experience in this digital world, a quagmire traveling at the speed of light.

The Safest (and Easiest) Way

Let’s put all the doomsday stuff aside and take a breath. While responsible action is appropriate, it isn’t impossible to do. In fact, it can be approached in a realistic and practical manner with ample consideration for our own needs. We talk about many password options (click here) and have come to the conclusion that password managers are the safest and all-around easiest method to deal with increasing security concerns.

Password Management Services Step In to Make Life Easier.

Password Management tools offer a lot of benefits to this complex dilemma, for instance:

  • Real security in our passwords
  • Less time lost, less attention wasted, less overall distraction from our busy lives
  • A price-conscious and worthwhile option regardless of what does or doesn’t happen

What is it we need that warrants such a service?

Basically, password management simplifies a really complex, ever-growing set of rules to follow. We are told that our passwords should be

  • strong
  • unique (not used repeatedly)
  • random & unpredictable
  • (and worst of all) something we could never remember!

Impossible? Well, if we surrender and accept that this is more than the human brain is designed to deal with, we can move forward towards secure online activity that actually is easier than what we already know!

What’s it like? What does it do? What am I getting into?

I can only speak of the one service that I have used but what I read indicates there are many similarities among password managers (and you can review comparison charts for many services). The service I use is LastPass from the makers of LogMeIn. I’m not going to repeat that name again and again but simply will refer to it as the password manager.

Basically, you have one password to remember and that’s what gets you into the password manager. The password manager will keep track of all the unique, individual (as well as strong) passwords for all your online log ins.  Your password manager should offer a password generating tool so any hints of human routine can be avoided for safe, strong passwords. You should be able to specify the number of characters and whether to include numbers, special characters, mixed case letters, etc.

Your service will probably offer an add-on tool for all modern browsers which can recognize web page addresses where you log in and then, based on your settings, add a login icon inside the username text field that an auto-fill all fields with the needed information, automatically fill the fields, -or- automatically fill the fields and push the “submit” button and you’re logged in with basically no action on your part.

Easy, right? Well, maybe or maybe not quite so easy.

Most logins are easy to accommodate, but sometimes the login interface throws us a curve ball.  The password manager settings help us with this. This means, on occasion, we have to take a look at our log-in process for some sites. If this practice is new to you, just remember that once we experience a couple of instances and have them worked through, it gets easier… it’s just something new to get accustomed to. We’ll see there are only a few such circumstances.

High-Security Interfaces

On occasion, a high-security website you’re trying to login to may may not cooperate fully. The auto-fill or auto-login feature may be rejected. Banks, brokerages, payroll services and the likes at times do not cooperate.

You still have access to your username and passwords in your password manager. Our password manager’s browser add-on, gives quick access. We click to open the password manager drop-down from the browser toolbar and are given an option to anonymously copy the username or password. The password manager still recognizes the website and masks what I am copying so I don’t feel vulnerable if in a public location.

Multiple Log-ins at a Single Website

You might anticipate needing to refrain from automatic logging in where you have multiple accounts at a single domain. For instance, if you have multiple GMail, HotMail, or AOL accounts, or if you have multiple Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In accounts that you manage. By nature of your personal circumstance, these would require you not to opt for the automatic login option. But you could easily make use of the multi-option drop down menu (if your password manager offers that).

Here is a video demonstrating three varieties of log ins and the ease of logging in to multiple sites with the aid of a password manager.