Companies scramble to move their operations online, especially after the recent global pandemic. While digital operations provide clear advantages for organizations and employees, there is still one key drawback Passwords. Employees have to use passwords for email accounts, business bank accounts, ERP applications, and so on when working remotely.
To a large extent, employers cannot regulate what kind of computer or network a remote worker uses to log in. Therefore, organizations must take strong measures to protect their employees’ personal information and business data. The most effective approach to protecting sensitive information is to have strong passwords generated for user accounts and stored in an encrypted format. And that is precisely what password managers do.
Password managers are trending red-hot these days because they are alone capable of taking your online security to a whole new level. That said, not all of them are created equal. So before investing in a password manager, make sure it has the following features:
1. Device Compatibility
When selecting a password manager, device compatibility is an important aspect to consider. Unfortunately, not all password managers support every device. Paying attention to the device compatibility becomes even more crucial if you encourage BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) work environment or rely on remote workers or freelancers.
At the same time, ensure that the password manager has a browser plugin for your favorite browser. These days, this is not much of an issue because nearly all popular password managers, including 1password.com, offer a fully functional browser plugin. However, if you use a web browser that is not as mainstream, you could have limited options at your disposal.
2. Recovery Options
When signing up for a password manager, you must set up a master password right away. This will serve as your encrypted vault’s primary key. If you cannot recover your master password, you will be locked out of your vault forever. Considering the importance of a master password, examining the recovery alternatives a password manager provides is essential.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for this. You need to review the recovery options a password manager provides and ensure you understand them before investing in the tool.
3. Two-Factor Authentication
Generally, password manager services exert considerable effort to secure their servers. But sometimes, the security boils down to your computer and is the most likely entry point for a malicious actor to gain access to your credentials. This can be accomplished, for example, by malware sent to your device that tracks your keystrokes. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is the best defense against this.
Even if a hacker obtains your master password, 2FA will prevent them from accessing your password manager unless they also have physical possession of your smartphone. Additionally, the notification you get about a failed login serves as a warning that someone is attempting to access your account.
It is also recommended that you opt for a password manager with a timer that automatically locks out your account after a certain period of inactivity. That way, if you leave the program for more than a few minutes, you will need to re-enter your master password (and undergo 2FA again).
You should have access to the code when you purchase an on-premise password manager. If the code is open-source, you will be able to make the required changes to it. But doing so may cause the program to become unreliable.
If you want to make modifications, you should talk to the vendor about it and see if they can supply a new copy in case the code becomes unstable. In other words, auditing enables you to make the most of a password manager. Besides, when a software provider gives you access to the source code, it also demonstrates their honesty and openness.
As an added security measure, the password manager should routinely check for outdated passwords and services that use the same master password. It is necessary to change these passwords right away. A more sophisticated password manager will keep notifying you to regularly change your passwords.
5. Zero-Knowledge Encryption
Password managers use various encryption algorithms to protect your data from the prying eyes of cybercriminals. Currently, numerous prevalent password managers utilize zero-knowledge encryption to ensure ultimate security.
With this security setup in place, your credentials are encrypted locally on your device before being sent over the network to the service provider’s servers.
Your master password (the encryption key) is never stored on the server. Thus, even if the provider’s servers are compromised, the hackers will only be able to decrypt your credentials.
6. Password Sharing
Password sharing presents a security risk due to the possibility of the encryption key being compromised. Yet, sharing passwords effortlessly could be an important feature to look for if you operate in a team. To further strengthen security, several password managers allow you to send your encryption key independently of your encrypted password over a secure chat.
Moreover, some enterprise-grade password managers allow for the creation of user groups, with each group having access to a specific set of passwords determined by the administrator.
7. Custom Reporting
Your password manager must provide you with the means to conduct audits and generate reports on the current status of your security. This will empower you to immediately acquire insights into how your business is utilizing your password manager and spot potential threats before they jeopardize your security.
Furthermore, custom reporting will show details such as the presence or absence of two-factor authentication, the dates and times of the most recent logins, the permissions granted to each user, and the resources they have used.
Regardless of the company size or industry, using a password manager has many advantages. Among other things, it can identify security vulnerabilities, protect popular productivity tools, and make an office or hybrid workplace safer and more productive. But you must embrace the right password manager tool to access all these perks.
Since the market is peppered with a broad array of applications, narrowing your attention to the factors covered in this post will make sure you stumble upon the best password manager.
Hope this article is of great help and you learned about the things to look for while choosing a password manager for your personal use or for your business.