Password managers can be a game changer for most of us who admit that we need to improve our password management habits. Dealing with passwords can often feel like a challenging task:
- Creating complex, hard-to-guess passwords is tough
- Remembering these complex passwords is even more challenging
- Getting them wrong and having to reset them is nothing short of irritating
And this difficulty can lead us into bad habits like relying on weak passwords or reusing them across multiple accounts — habits that cyber criminals prey on to access our accounts. Sadly, it’s highly probable that someone in your business is relying on such a weak or reused password, unknowingly exposing your business to risk. But don’t worry, we have some good news!
Companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft are spearheading efforts to replace traditional passwords with Passkeys, a secure and convenient authentication method that uses your smartphone to verify your identity. However, it will be a while before Passkeys can fully replace passwords. So, what can your small business do in the meantime to ensure safety and ease of work? The answer: embrace password managers.
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Understanding Password Managers
A password manager is a software application that stores and manages your credentials for various accounts, including websites, applications, and business software.
Here’s a rundown of how it works:
- Works on both your computer and phone.
- Generates unique, long, random passwords for each application and remembers them.
- Auto-fills the login boxes when you attempt to log in.
- Simple and easy to set up — all you need to remember is your master password.
The Benefits of Using a Password Manager
Password managers offer substantial benefits besides improving your security and safeguarding your data:
- You no longer need to remember multiple passwords.
- Auto-generation of secure, long, unique passwords.
- Saves time with the autofill feature.
- Synchronizes across different operating systems and browsers — seamless experience whether you’re using Windows at work or iPhone on the go.
- Protects your identity — unique passwords for each account means a breach in one doesn’t compromise the others.
- Alerts you to risks — it won’t autofill data on fake websites it doesn’t recognize.
- Some password managers scan the dark web to ensure your credentials aren’t leaked.
- Many password managers use a zero-knowledge approach — your data is encrypted before leaving your device, making it unreadable.
Potential Risks of Using a Password Manager
To provide a balanced perspective, let’s also look at some potential risks:
- All your sensitive data is stored in one place, protected by one master password.
- There’s a risk that cyber criminals could obtain your master password, especially if you’re infected with malware or a keyboard logger.
- It’s crucial to use biometrics or multi-factor authentication (MFA) for added security.
- If you forget your master password, it’s intentionally hard to reset it.
“Picking the right password manager can help mitigate these risks.”
Choosing the Right Password Manager for Your Business
There are three primary types of password managers available, each with its pros and cons:
Built into browsers like Chrome, Edge, and Safari, these are free and easy to use. However, they are confined to their own browser and can be restrictive across multiple devices. As a business owner, you’ll have little control over the information your team stores.
Cloud-based password managers offer enhanced security. They provide backup of your password vault, detect weak/reused passwords, generate stronger ones, and perform checks for
data leaks. They work across different browsers, operating systems, and mobile devices.
Desktop-based password managers store data locally on your device. They offer the highest level of security but require regular backups. They are also less versatile as they restrict access to your passwords from other devices.
Remember, the right password manager depends on your business’s specific needs and the security consciousness of your team.
Are Password Managers Safe?
Yes, absolutely! While there have been occasional breaches in the past, most professional password managers boast an excellent record. Following best practices — which we’ll discuss below — will greatly improve your protection against credential theft.
Following Password Best Practices
Even the best password manager can’t help you if you disregard password best practices. So, ensure that your entire team adheres to these rules:
- Regular cybersecurity training for everyone in your business.
- Use a password manager provided by the business.
- Never reuse passwords. Use the auto-generation feature of your password manager for complex, random passwords.
- Your master password should be a strong passphrase. Use multi-factor authentication or biometrics for added security.
- Avoid free password managers for business use. They usually lack essential features like device/browser sync, MFA, and end-to-end encryption.
- Establish a clear password policy that all employees follow.
By following these guidelines and employing a password manager, you add a powerful layer of protection to your business data.
Are you curious about which password manager we recommend and use? Get in touch, and we’d be happy to share!
Deep-Dive Into Top Password Managers for Small Businesses
Dashlane offers an all-in-one solution for password management, secure notes, auto-fill, and a built-in VPN for safe browsing. Like LastPass, it uses AES-256 bit encryption.
Notable Features: Auto-fill, password generator, secure notes, dark web monitoring, VPN, and secure sharing. Dashlane also provides detailed security reporting.
Pricing: Dashlane’s business plan is £3.60/user/month and comes with a free personal account for every user.
1Password is recognized for its excellent design and user experience. It uses AES-256 encryption for your data. It is also a zero-knowledge service, which means even they cannot access your passwords.
Notable Features: Auto-fill, password generator, secure notes, and secure sharing. One unique feature of 1Password is its “Travel Mode,” which removes sensitive data from your devices when you cross borders.
Pricing: 1Password Business costs £5.76/user/month, but the advanced security controls and provision of a free family account for every user make it worth the cost.
Keeper is an excellent password manager providing features such as encrypted messaging and dark web monitoring. It also uses AES-256 bit encryption to secure your data.
Notable Features: Auto-fill, password generator, secure notes, secure file storage, and encrypted messaging. Keeper offers advanced two-factor authentication, including biometrics.
Pricing: Keeper Business costs £2.70/user/month.
Bitwarden offers a comprehensive free tier, making it an appealing option for cost-conscious small businesses. It is an open-source password manager, which adds a layer of transparency to its security.
Notable Features: Auto-fill, password generator, and secure sharing. Bitwarden also offers a self-hosted option for businesses wanting full control over their data.
Pricing: Bitwarden’s paid plan for businesses starts at £2.16/user/month.
Disclaimer: The prices mentioned above are as of the date of this article and are subject to change. They are provided in GBP and are based on annual subscriptions. Please note that different types of licenses (such as personal or business) may come with different features and pricing structures. Always check the official website of the password manager for the most up-to-date and accurate information. Furthermore, while we strive to provide accurate and helpful information, these recommendations are for informational purposes only. You should always perform your own research and consult with a professional when making IT decisions for your business.
Implementing a Password Manager Effectively
Adopting a password manager is not just about choosing the right software. It also involves implementing it effectively across your organization.
- Educate Your Team: Explain the importance of password security and how a password manager can help. Provide training sessions on using the password manager.
- Develop a Password Policy: Define your business’s password policy. Include rules about password complexity, sharing, and how often to update passwords.
- Monitor and Enforce Compliance: Make sure everyone in the organization is using the password manager as required.
- Regularly Update and Patch: Ensure your password manager is always up to date to prevent security vulnerabilities.
- Have a Plan for Employee Departures: If an employee leaves, you should be able to immediately revoke their access to business passwords.
By considering these points, you can effectively implement a password manager and significantly enhance your business’s security posture. If you need further guidance or assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us.