Should I use a Password Manager or the One-Password Solution

A man using a laptop and relying on a password manager to easily & securely store all his passwords which is additionally symbolized by a padlock in a shield.

Having strong and reliable account protection is crucial for users who prioritize their security. A password manager can help enabling users to effectively implement a single strong password solution by adding an additional layer of protection. By securely storing all passwords in one place (the password manager’s vault), the password manager simplifies the user’s online security and ensures that the user can easily access their accounts while maintaining robust protection against unauthorized access of all user’s sensitive information. With just one master password to remember, users are assured the utmost security while avoiding the hassle of trying to recall multiple complex passwords. The password manager does the job of securely storing and generating strong passwords for all users’ accounts. This significantly reduces the risk of being hacked, if the tool is used correctly.

Most password managers offer the convenience of being available as both, a browser extension for desktop use and a mobile app with biometric authentication for added security on mobile devices or smartphones. The tool also ensures that the user can easily manage and access their passwords across different platforms without compromising on ease or safety.

While it may be true that gaining access to a user's password vault would grant someone access to all their accounts as the manager acts as a single point of access, this should not deter users from using a password manager. In fact, security professionals highly recommend utilizing such tools for enhanced security measures. By storing and generating unique passwords for each account, users significantly reduce the risk of being compromised. The benefits of using a password manager far outweigh any potential risks.

Within this blog article, Engity further elaborates the advantages of using a password manager, discusses different features of such tools, describes selection criteria for choosing the right tool as well as talks about standard access management methods (e.g., two-factor authentication) for password managers which make a password manager especially secure.

The aim of this article is to give the user the peace of mind knowing that their online accounts are well-protected. Password managers offer more than just convenience…

Advantages of using a Password Manager

The benefits of employing a password manager system are manifold:

  1. Simplicity: The process eliminates the cumbersome nature of monitoring multiple passwords, redirecting focus to fortifying a singular one.

  2. Security: To increase the overall security level of a user’s password strategy, they only need to set-up and remember one very strong password. This eliminates all the challenges of not remembering passwords, writing them down, or making hint comments to remember them.

  3. Convenience: With advancements in technology, features such as browser extensions and biometric verification techniques have been integrated, rendering the retrieval and utilization of stored passwords exceptionally smooth.

Password Generator as further Functionality of a Password Manager

Beyond being the master vault for all user’s passwords, most password managers offer a comprehensive suite of features to further bolster security. The most important of them is for sure the automated password generator. Despite aiming for different strong passwords as a result, the user can set the rules for the password generation. The user can generally choose the length of the password to be generated and decide if uppercase, lowercase characters, numbers, or symbols should be incorporated. Besides the classical password, the generator is often also able to generate passphrases as well as usernames.

Premium Features of a Good Password Manager

Next to generating passwords, passphrases and usernames, a good password manager also offers the possibility

  1. to set up various vaults or folders,
  2. to structure user credentials in a user’s preferred file structure as well as
  3. to share access information with other users.

Furthermore, depending on the password manager used, there are multiple additional features available:

  1. Manage credit card data or copies of important documents (e.g., passport, ID cards, birth certificates, and other important documents a user might want to protect).
  2. A note function often allows to save important information, e.g., where a user hides money in his house or just a credit card pin, etc.
  3. A sharing function often allows to share passwords, passphrases, or simply important information with third parties, e.g., their children, business partners or friends.
  4. A so-called survivors’ function sometimes allows to share data with own children or relatives if user did not access their password manager for a longer time.

Finally, most password managers keep up with technical developments and implement new technologies if available such as TOTP or passkeys.

Password Managers and Standard Access Methods

Password managers and advanced access technologies play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of our personal information and sensitive data. Gone are the days of relying solely on traditional passwords for login authentication. With the rise of cyber threats, providers of password managers introduced additional access methods in addition to the classical username and password. Consequently, a Password Manager is often protected with an extra layer of security via two-factor authentication (TFA), often also known as multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Most of the time, the classical first factor username/password is combined with at least one further factor, e.g.

  • Biometrics,
  • Token,
  • One-Time Passwords (OTP) via E-Mail or SMS verification,
  • Single-Sign-On or WebAuthn (Enterprise or Social Login),
  • TOTP to verify user identity.

Good password managers do not only aim to increase the security of the user’s stored credentials but also strive to improve the usability of the respective tool. This is why password managers are often capable of judging if one or two factors are needed for a secure login. Hence, a user often can unlock his password manager’s vault using only a fingerprint or face recognition (Biometrics) after the master password has been entered at least once on the same device (e.g., on the smartphone). As benefit, the user does not constantly type the master password on the small smartphone screen keyboard but nevertheless can profit from a two-factor authentication.

How to Generate the Secure Master Password or the Art of Creating an Impenetrable Master Password?

As the cornerstone of a password manger, the master password's formulation is of paramount importance. In summary, it is essential to build a unique and very strong password or passphrase. To find out how, please find some guidelines below:

  1. Length and Memorability: The length of a password or passphrase is an important security factor. Due to consistently improving hacker capabilities, 12 characters or more are seen as the absolute minimum for a secure master password. But the length alone is not making a password secure, some extra conditions must be met.

  2. Complexity: Incorporating several special characters makes it difficult for a third party to guess the password. This may, however, make the password hard to remember for the user. In this case, consider using a passphrase.

  3. Personal information should be excluded: It is imperative to not use details like names of loved ones, significant dates, or other easily accessible information, as these are often the first targets for cyber intruders.

More information how to create a strong password can be found here.

Which Password Manager Should I Select, or: Criteria for Selecting the Ideal Password Manager?

Entrusting a tool with one's entire digital persona necessitates a proper due diligence. Some crucial factors to contemplate include:

  1. Security Protocols: It is essential to understand the encryption standards adhered to and the availability of supplementary security features like two-factor authentication.

  2. Public Availability of Source Code: If the source code is publicly available and is used frequently, many experts will regularly look into this source code, find errors, suggest improvements, find and fix security vulnerabilities much faster. Additionally, open-source code makes it possible to control the provider in respect of use of personal data. The security of publicly visible security mechanisms can be neutrally proven.

  3. Usability Metrics: The ability of the manager to synchronize across multiple devices and the intuitiveness of its user interface is of considerable significance (e.g., browser extensions).

  4. Hosting: Is the password manager a managed-as-a-service solution? Where are the servers located? Europe or abroad? Is it possible to host the password manager software yourself on your own (European) servers?

  5. Costs: While there exists a plethora of competent free password managers, some users might find value in the enhanced features of premium versions.