Sometimes it takes a major data breach, such as what happened with eBay, Yahoo, LinkedIn and eHarmony in which tens of millions of people had their passwords stolen, to bring attention to the vulnerable state of password security. Passwords are a fact of life in a digital world, and the average person has around six for 26 online accounts across multiple devices. Making passwords hacker-proof with enough mixed-case letters, numbers and special characters is hard enough, but trying to remember all of them is beyond the capacity of most people. This often leads to people reusing one or two passwords for all of their logins on multiple devices, which increases their vulnerability.
This is why a password manager is useful. With a password manager, you only need to remember one master password that does the work of managing all of your logins. It can even come up with strong, random passwords that thwart typical password attacks. Password managers were originally developed to store all of your passwords in an encrypted vault. They have since evolved into full-scale managers that let you sync your passwords across multiple devices, change your online passwords on the fly or perform the log-in sequence on your behalf. The best password managers keep you on the cutting edge of password security while protecting all of your critical data.
The following are four of the best and safest password managers in 2016.
1Password is available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android. As of January 2016, the cost is $49 for Mac and Windows. It is free for limited use on Android. First built for Macs, 1Password covers all platforms equally well. It excels as a strong password generator for any site you visit, and each one is secured with 256-bit encryption. Although it does not offer cloud synchronization for multiple devices, it does integrate with Dropbox and iCloud to provide you with a portable password vault. It can also be used locally without the need to sync any information to the Web. You can create multiple password vaults to securely share with a family member or co-worker. 1Password is also a digital wallet that stores your payment and bank account info.
RoboForm is available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android. As of January 2016, it is free to download for 10 logins. The cost for the first year is $9.95, and it is $19.95 per year thereafter. Wherever you need to log in, RoboForm is there to assist you. When you input your log-in information, RoboForm pops up from its embedded position on your browser and asks if you want to save the information for later. RoboForm maintains a library of all your logins for you to easily access on demand. In addition to being a strong password generator, RoboForm is a virtual assistant, storing your online data to help you quickly fill out extensive forms with a simple click. RoboForm can be used locally, transferred between devices with a USB drive or synced across multiple devices.
Dashlane is available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android. As of January 2016, it is free to download for use with a single device and $29.99 per year for backing up data or syncing across multiple devices. Dashlane is becoming the password manager of choice for a growing number of users because of its all-in-one capabilities. It can generate strong passwords with ease; it has excellent auto-login and auto-fill features. As a digital wallet, it can store banking and credit card information for auto-filling. It can log all your e-commerce orders and transactions for simple tracking, and it has the ability to change all of your passwords on dozens of websites with just a few clicks. Dashlane lets you know if a website on which you have an account has been hacked and resets the password. Like the other managers, Dashlane gives you the option of keeping your passwords local in an encrypted vault or synchronized across multiple devices on the Web.
LastPass is available for Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry, and it has plugins for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer. As of January 2016, it is free to download and use and $12 per year for premium features and mobile apps. LastPass is one of the first true password managers on the market, and it has since pioneered many of the features common with other managers. In addition to password generation, auto-fill and all of the features standard with its top competitors, LastPass includes credit monitoring and streamlined online shopping.