Are password managers safe? Cybersafety experts weigh in

·3 min read

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Signing up for a password manager like LastPass Premium can help ensure that you create a strong enough password for each account you own. (Photo: Getty)
Signing up for a password manager like LastPass Premium can help ensure that you create a strong enough password for each account you own. (Photo: Getty)

You need a password to access every account you have online, and it's a lot to keep track of. There's a password for your social media accounts, your bank, your utilities, car payments — it can be overwhelming when you stop and think about it, especially given that you're technically supposed to have a unique password for each account. 

That's why many people turn to password managers for help. If you've never used one of these tools in the past, though, it's normal to wonder if password managers are safe.

Consider this: Data breach statistics indicate that at least 2.5 billion accounts were hacked in 2018. And, if you're using the same password across all your accounts, you're vulnerable to cyber crime if even just one of your accounts gets compromised.

Luckily, you don't have to sit back and hope you don't get hacked. Signing up for a password manager like LastPass Premium can help ensure that you create a strong enough password for each account you own — and keep it in a secure file — so that your data will remain private. But you may be wondering, "Are password managers safe?" Here's what you need to know.

Try LastPass Premium, part of Yahoo Plus Secure, risk-free for 30 days.

Password managers can give you peace of mind. (Photo: Getty)
Password managers can give you peace of mind. (Photo: Getty)

What is a password manager again?

A password manager is a program that lets you manage a range of online passwords. Password managers can store your passwords in an encrypted database, help you generate new passwords and apply your passwords when you need them. With a password manager, you don't need to enter your password into every account you have — simply go to the site, the password manager will enter your password for you, and you're granted access. 

Are password managers safe?

Yes. "Password managers tend to improve the strength of a password," Mikko Laaksonen, chief executive officer of Responsible Cyber, tells Yahoo Life. "This, in general, is a good thing."

Joseph Steinberg, cybersecurity and emerging technologies advisor, tells Yahoo Life that, while a password manager "puts many eggs in one basket," they're often much safer than what the average person is doing to keep their online accounts secure. "For the many people who would otherwise endanger themselves far more by using weak passwords and inappropriately reused passwords, utilizing a password manager offers a major cybersecurity improvement," he says. 

If you decide to use a password manager, Steinberg recommends opting for one with a good track record. For example, LastPass Premium has kept customers' information secure for more than five years.

Password managers save you from using weak passwords or reusing the same password on multiple accounts, which is a security risk. (Photo: Getty)
Password managers save you from using weak passwords or reusing the same password on multiple accounts, which is a security risk. (Photo: Getty)

To make your password manager even safer, you'll want to protect your credentials that are required for accessing your password manager. In other words, don't put your password for your password manager in a document on your computer desktop under the name "Passwords." If you can, Steinberg "strongly" suggest" memorizing the information needed to access your password manager.

Another way to keep your password manager as safe as possible, per Laaksonen: Use double authentication. That is, you should need to enter two layers of identification in order to access your data. 

Once you take those steps, you can feel more secure that your passwords — and your password manager — are safer from cyber crime. 

Shop it: Try LastPass Premium, part of Yahoo Plus Secure, risk-free for 30 days, subscriptions.yahoo.com

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