How to Choose a Secure Password Manager?

A password manager is an excellent way to protect multiple accounts with robust passwords. With a password manager, you can create unique, complex passwords for an unlimited number of accounts while only needing to remember a single master password.

However, when it comes to picking a password manager it is important to bear some important considerations in mind. Failure to do so could mean you end up with a password manager that isn’t completely trustworthy.

How are passwords stored?

Password managers come in two distinct varieties. The first kind are services where the user retains full control over the encryption of their passwords. With this kind of password manager, it is impossible to recover the account if you lose your master password. This is because the service has no control over the passwords and has no ability to access them under any circumstances.

The second kind of password manager allows consumers to entrust the service to encrypt their passwords on their behalf. This means that the third party holds the key used to encrypt and decrypt the user’s passwords. In this kind of system, it is possible for consumers to recover their account and set up a new master password if they should happen to forget it. However, this kind of password manager does not provide end to end encryption and is therefore not as secure.

The first kind - in which only the consumer can access his or her password - is by far the most secure. This is because the key for accessing the password is never stored on company servers and is therefore never vulnerable to hackers.

Open source Vs Closed source

In addition to selecting a password manager where only the user can encrypt and decrypt passwords, it is important to consider whether a password manager is closed or open source.

Closed source password managers (also known as proprietary software) is locked so that nobody can analyze or audit the code. This makes it impossible to verify any claims made by the password manager’s developer.

A closed source password manager may claim to use end to end encryption to secure passwords. It could also claim that passwords are only ever stored locally rather than being transmitted to company servers. However, despite these claims, if the source code for the software is closed source - it is absolutely impossible to verify those claims.

It is for this reason that many privacy and security advocates refuse to use any privacy software that isn’t open source. When a password manager is open source - or has at least had its source code made available - it is possible for anybody to look at the code to ensure that it doesn’t have any mistakes, vulnerabilities, or deliberate backdoors.

Admittedly, some (or all) of the closed source password managers on the market could be telling the truth about the level of protection that they provide. And there is not necessarily any proof currently circulating - that those firms are collecting everyone’s passwords on behalf of the NSA or some other nefarious group, for example.

However, the fact remains that if a password manager is closed source it is impossible to verify what it is doing. This means that it can never be considered as secure as an open source competitor.

Depending on your personal needs you may decide to use a closed source service due to the ease of use, or because the account can be recovered. The choice is yours, and it really does depend on your personal threat model, but, when it comes to privacy and security; open source is always better than closed.

How to Choose a Secure Password Manager? Reviewed by Irfan Shakeel on 2:24 AM Rating: 5

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