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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Picking a Password Manager

Picking a Password Manager

The growing number of complicated passwords we need to remember, and the wide range of devices and services we use, makes enlisting password management software a good idea.

Passwords are a critical part of any small business security infrastructure, and with more companies relying on a variety of cloud services, keeping track of team members’ passwords to the company’s various cloud accounts is becoming more important, and more challenging, seemingly week by week.

Rather than relying on potentially insecure solutions to the growing password problem, more companies are turning to password management software that stores user IDs and passwords in a central database, and enters those credentials automatically as team members log onto websites or cloud services.

Secure Storage

Password managers provide a central“vault” that stores your company’s passwords safely, and can generate strong passwords as you create new accounts. Because you don’t have to worry about remembering or writing down passwords, the passwords that are generated by the software can be up to 16 characters long, and can include a random(and seemingly gibberish) string of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols.

In addition, password managers allow team members to share passwords securely, without writing them down or sending them through email messages, and include mobile apps that allow you to access services via smartphones and tablets.

Password managers can also help your company reduce several password-related security risks:

  • Team members using the same passwords for multiple sites.
  • Using easy to remember, but week, passwords that can be cracked easily by automated hacking tools.
  • Users storing passwords in spreadsheets or on stereotypical sticky notes.

Centralized password management helps small businesses avoid these common security risks by storing encrypted password in a central location. Passwords are easy for authorized users to access, but are difficult for hackers to decrypt.

Password management software can also alleviate some of the administrative headaches that come with managing user IDs and passwords. For instance, it is easy to assign different access levels to your various team members so employees can only access information and services they need to do their jobs.

Similarly, it takes only a couple of clicks to remove the permissions of an employee who leaves your company, reducing the risk of a former employee accessing your services or information.

In addition, you don’t have to worry about one person controlling all of your passwords, or, more commonly, different employees having access to the passwords for different sites. You wouldn’t want, for instance, the rest of your team to be locked out of your CRM system if your sales manager goes on vacation, or for team members to have to ask their colleagues repeatedly about shared passwords.

Protecting the Vault

Many people are understandably nervous about the idea of storing all of their passwords with one service or site, which itself may be vulnerable to an attack from hackers. Password management services respond to this concern by storing passwords on your network, not on their servers. Other account related information is encrypted, and as long as you protect your password management software with a strong master password, the password management system still provides a more secure approach than the improvised methods most small businesses use.

Popular choices for password managers include LastPass, 1Password, Roboform, Dashlane and others.

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