How to Choose the Best Password Manager For Your Business
Let’s be honest. Good password management is a pain. Just consider that if you want to follow basic best practices to make a strong password, it should:
- Be at least 12 characters long (and as long as possible)
- Use a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols
- Not contain any personal info (such as birthdays or family member names), common words, patterns of words, or popular phrases
- Never be written down
- Never be shared with others
- Be unique for every account and never re-used for any reason
- Be regularly changed and updated
If you’re vigilantly following this laundry list of rules, then kudos to you. But the truth is, for most people, these requirements mean strong passwords are tedious and complex to create, memorize, and store. Especially when you have to manage multiple passwords for different systems, networks, and accounts. This is why many people often reuse passwords.
Don’t Reuse Existing Passwords!
If your password is stolen, the cybercriminal can gain access at once to all your different platforms where you use the same password especially if that login credential open doors to systems that manage your company’s financial information, and confidential client data, such as their social security number, credit card information, or health records. By spending a little more effort on creating and managing secure passwords, your business significantly reduces the chances of data breaches that can result in hefty lawsuits, and regulatory fines. But how can you keep up with password management best practices?
Enter – the Password Manager.
What Is a Password Manager?
Becoming more popular by the day, a dedicated password manager (a.k.a. password vault) is a piece of software that allows users to securely store and access their passwords in one comprehensive solution. Think of it like a personal home safe – just for passwords. By entering a master password, you unlock your “safe” with all your passwords inside it.
Secure password managers can also help you generate strong passwords that are unique, randomized, and long-tail.
Many password management systems also offer web browser extensions for you to easily access and log into it. And they automatically fill your usernames and website passwords into their respective fields for you, so you don’t need to memorize or write them down.
Another benefit of using a password vault is that they allow you to sync passwords from all your devices. So, for instance, if you added a new or changed your password on your mobile device for a website, the password manager will automatically add or update that password on your desktop too.
The best password managers will also provide dark web monitoring services, so they can alert you when any of your passwords accidentally end up on the dark web. The software then will recommend you updating your password for a more secure one.
How Do Password Managers Work?
Once you open a password manager account, you will be asked to create your master password. This master password will unlock the rest of your passwords from here on out. You can then save all your different passwords to various websites and accounts into the password manager for easy access.
Password Managers typically use encryption to secure the data stored in them. Encryption uses algorithms to scramble your data into an unreadable format and only unscramble (decrypt) it once your master password “unlocks” the contents inside. This is a crucial component of password manager software because it means even if a hacker somehow gains access to the password database, they would be unable to read the contents without the master password. Most password managers use robust encryption algorithms, such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) that are virtually unbreakable with current technology.
What are the Best Password Managers for Businesses?
This is entirely dependent on the layout of your business and what features you will want or need.
There are many options, but some of the most popular password managers are:
Most of these password manager solutions offer personal and business options. Personal accounts usually come with the basic features outlined above (encryption, autofill).
In contrast, business accounts contain expanded features designed for teams and organizations that have a multitude of users with multiple or shared accounts.
You’ll also need to decide between using a cloud-based solution or hosting your passwords locally.
With cloud-based hosting, your passwords are stored on remote servers, providing convenience by allowing users to log in from anywhere and with any device. They often also offer remote backup and recovery.
Local hosting, on the other hand, offers more control and better security since you have complete autonomy over how and where the passwords can be accessed.
These options, along with factors like ease of use, security, and compatibility with your organization’s current setup, should guide your decision about which enterprise password manager is best for you.
How Much Do Password Managers Cost?
Most password managers have simple and transparent pricing plans that fall in the range of $2- $8 per user per month for business accounts.
Which are the best free password managers?
If you do an internet search for “best free password manager”, you’ll find many password managers, such as NordPass, Norton, Bitwarden, Dashlane, that offer either a free plan or a free trial. But with anything free in life typically comes a price. Free often means fewer security features, only limited number of users, no two factor authentication, limited number of passwords to be stored, lack of support, or you have a limited time to try their product. For businesses, we certainly recommend paid options, which are very affordable especially when you consider what costs you would be facing should a cyber incident occur.
How Safe Are Password Managers?
Thanks to their encryption methods, most password managers are highly secure. Cloud-based solutions are easier for hackers to compromise due to being online. Localized solutions are less so since they are not exposed to the internet.
For added protection enabling Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) in conjunction with your password managers can add an extra layer of defense. Enabling MFA will require an extra authentication process so that even in the rare event your master password might be compromised, hackers will be deterred from gaining access to your accounts because they’ll require a second form of authentication.
Of course, as your organization’s needs grow, managing even a simplified solution such as a password manager can become very time-consuming and complex. For example, when employees leave, you must have a plan to revoke their access to the password manager.
For this reason, some companies find working with a Managed Service Provider beneficial. Since MSPs assist businesses in constructing a comprehensive security profile, they can also help select the proper password management solutions, develop strong password management procedures, and unlock the full potential of your password manager by implementing advanced features.
Some helpful advanced features an MSP can help you set up are:
- Shared vaults where certain employees can access the same specific group of passwords
- Automatic password rotation
- Tracking and auditing who is accessing your accounts
Regardless of the solution you choose, password managers are far more secure than writing down your passwords with pen and paper or putting them in an excel sheet. They are the best solution for creating, storing, and accessing passwords at the current moment.
Why You Shouldn’t Store Passwords in a Web Browser
Despite the massive convenience and security advantages of using password managers, many people still wonder can they save passwords in their different web browsers. While it is convenient because most browsers come with this feature built in and a message pops up prompting you to save your login credentials to the browser when you are logging into any page on the internet, we strongly advise against this practice. It presents a serious security risk. If any of your devices become infected with malware for instance, you are risking your credentials leaking.
If you are in the process of selecting the best password manager for your business and need some guidance, or want to gain better insight into how to best keep all your essential credentials secure, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.