This post was originally published on July 21st, 2016 and has been updated with slight stylistic changes.
We live in a world of a million passwords. There’s no getting around it if you have any sort of online presence. And yet, many do nothing to keep track of all those passwords floating around in their brain (or on sticky notes next to their monitor). Even worse, some people use the exact same password for everything.
That’s a scary situation. If your Facebook password is the same as your email password and the same as your bank password, a breach in any one of those services opens you up to untold havoc on your life.
And if you use Facebook to log into all the other sites you use, all someone needs is your Facebook password.
That’s where password managers come into play. A password manager is a handy application that keeps track of all of your passwords. It will even generate extremely secure passwords for you, all at the click of a button.
I personally use Bitwarden, an open source password manager. I recently switched to it from LastPass in my ongoing effort to use more Open Source Software (OSS). Bitwarden is a great password manager, and currently holds over 400 unique credentials for all the various accounts I’ve collected over the years.
Bitwarden makes logging into sites dead easy. You can set it up to automatically fill in your username and password, or even log in completely upon landing on any website’s authentication page. It works on every single device I own. While it’s not completely flawless in detecting the login fields on every single site, it generally does a damn fine job.
With Bitwarden (and other password managers) all your passwords are protected by a single master password. That master password is the last one you’ll ever need to remember. I personally use a forty character passphrase for mine, since passphrases help create passwords that are easy to remember and are extremely secure.
Here’s a quick xkcd explaining why passphrases are awesome:
Just don’t use “correcthorsebatterystaple” as your password. Due to the comic, that passphrase is now included in any hacker's arsenal now.
So if you don’t have a password manager, go get one! I highly recommend Bitwarden, but any of the major names that come up on a quick search should do the trick.
While it can be somewhat of a hassle to set up a password manager, it’s absolutely worth the effort. Your data will be much safer, and you can sleep easy at night knowing a breach in any single website you use will always be contained to only that site.
The One Thing: Use a password manager
Lane Sawyer is an IT consultant at Pariveda Solutions in Seattle, WA. He enjoys writing articles like this one when he’s not working on some new project, tackling a challenging video game, or running around outside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about him on his website.