Best pass­word man­agers

Be­ing hacked can have dis­as­trous re­sults. A pass­word man­ager is a great way to stay safe. Mar­tyn Casserly re­ports

Macworld - - BUYING GUIDE -

Pass­words are a pain. With so much of our mod­ern lives based on­line, it’s now a nec­es­sary evil to cre­ate pass­words for our email, me­dia stream­ing, gam­ing, fi­nan­cial, and other ser­vices.

But be­cause con­ven­tions dif­fer from site to site (this one de­mands at least two sym­bols and no cap­i­tals, while this one re­quires a mix­ture of cases and a min­i­mum length), it’s im­por­tant to

use orig­i­nal pass­words for each ac­count, and they need to be up­dated on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, it can be a Her­culean task try­ing to re­mem­ber them all.

That’s where pass­word man­ager apps come in. These al­low users to cre­ate one mas­ter pass­word, af­ter which the app takes care of log­ging into all other ac­counts. Only hav­ing to re­mem­ber one com­bi­na­tion of let­ters, num­bers, and weird sym­bols? That sounds good to us.

How pass­word man­agers work

The idea of pass­word man­agers is to sim­plify the way you ac­cess your var­i­ous ac­counts. This is done by the man­ager gen­er­at­ing a mas­ter pass­word, which you then use to ac­cess its dash­board area where all of your lo­gin de­tails are stored. Here you can en­ter far more com­plex pass­words for each ser­vice, know­ing that the man­ager will au­to­mat­i­cally fill in the de­tails via plug-ins in your browser or through apps on your smart­phone and tablet apps.

The man­agers can also cre­ate ran­dom pass­words for your ac­counts. These will of­ten be harder to hack than your own ef­forts, as they are not de­signed to be eas­ily re­mem­bered by hu­mans.

Ob­vi­ously, se­cu­rity is a high pri­or­ity – as the man­ager apps have the vir­tual keys to your king­dom – which is why all of the ones listed be­low use high-grade en­cryp­tion to pro­tect your de­tails.

Many also fea­ture dig­i­tal wal­lets, so your bank de­tails can be safely stored and then used to make pur­chases on­line with­out hav­ing to

root around in your pocket or bag for the card

num­ber and ex­piry date.

These ser­vices don’t usu­ally come for free, but

many of­fer tri­als so you can see if it’s the so­lu­tion

for you. Af­ter that you’ll need to pay a small monthly

fee, but we think that’s a price worth pay­ing for

only hav­ing to keep one pass­word in your brain.

1. Dash­lane

Price: Free (one de­vice), £38.99 per year (mul­ti­ple de­vices) from

Here’s a pass­word man­ager that’s been grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity over the past year or so. A po­ten­tial rea­son for this is the free tier on of­fer, which gets you up and run­ning in a mat­ter of min­utes. Once in­stalled Dash­lane can pull any stored ac­count de­tails you might have in your browsers, mak­ing them avail­able in the dash­board area where they can be viewed and man­aged.

The app analy­ses your cur­rent pass­words to see how se­cure they are, and gives you an over­all rat­ing based on how of­ten you re­use lo­gin de­tails on mul­ti­ple sites. There’s also a fea­ture to au­tore­place pass­words in­stantly with ones gen­er­ated by Dash­lane. Plug-ins and ex­ten­sions are avail­able for Sa­fari, Chrome, and Fire­fox, all of which will auto-fill forms and lo­gin de­tails when you visit a web­site.

Credit card and PayPal de­tails can be stored in the dig­i­tal wal­let sec­tion of the app, along­side dig­i­tal ver­sions of your pass­port and other IDs. There’s also a sec­tion for any se­cure notes you

wish to keep safe. The clean, clear in­ter­face for Dash­lane means it’s easy to setup and use. The fact that it also fea­tures AES 256-bit en­cryp­tion, and has apps for macOS, Win­dows, Linux, iOS, and An­droid, makes it a very good op­tion if you’re new to pass­word man­agers.

The free tier al­lows the ser­vice to be used on one de­vice, but if you want to sync your pass­words to your phone and tablet too then the Pre­mium tier will set you back £38.99 per year.

2. LastPass

Price: £22.99 per year from

LastPass is prob­a­bly the best-known pass­word man­ager, thanks to it be­ing one of the orig­i­nal

pi­o­neers in the field. The com­pany places a strong em­pha­sis on se­cu­rity, trum­pet­ing the use of “AES 256-bit en­cryp­tion with PBKDF2 SHA-256 and salted hashes to en­sure com­plete se­cu­rity in the cloud”.

The app does all of its en­cryp­tion lo­cally, so LastPass never knows your mas­ter pass­word, and the Pre­mium tier also sup­ports two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion for another layer of se­cu­rity.

There are plug-ins and ex­ten­sions avail­able for Sa­fari, Fire­fox, Chrome, and Opera, all of which al­low you to au­to­mat­i­cally ac­cess lo­gin de­tails for sites and ac­counts. Mo­bile apps for iOS and An­droid can also be found in the rel­e­vant app store.

LastPass seem to have given its in­ter­face a lick of paint re­cently, as it’s sim­ple and straight­for­ward to use, which is some­thing that wasn’t al­ways the case. Just like with other man­agers you have ac­cess to a vault where all of your pass­words are stored, and these can be changed to more com­plex

alternatives at the touch of a but­ton. LastPass will also ad­vise you on how se­cure your pass­words are for your ex­ist­ing ac­counts.

The app of­fers a dig­i­tal wal­let to store your card de­tails, plus another area for of­fi­cial ID such as pass­ports and driv­ing li­censes.

Along­side the free ver­sion you can sign up to a Pre­mium plan for £22.99 per year. Those want­ing more scope can opt for the fam­ily plan which in­cludes six user ac­counts and only costs $48 per year on the LastPass web­site, which is about £35.

One of the ad­van­tages of a paid plan is an Emer­gency backup which means that should you suf­fer an ac­ci­dent, or even pass away, then your fam­ily will be given ac­cess to your ac­count.

It should be men­tioned that, due to its size and pop­u­lar­ity, LastPass has been the tar­get for hack­ers over the last few years, lead­ing to a few vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties be­ing found in the code. But LastPass has re­sponded very quickly to fix each in­stance and made pub­lic state­ments about the na­ture of the prob­lems. To date, it seems that no user in­for­ma­tion has ever been ob­tained, thanks in a large part to the en­cryp­tion and se­cu­rity pro­to­cols used by the com­pany.

3. 1Pass­word

Price: £3.99 per month or £34.99 per year from

Another long-stand­ing favourite is 1Pass­word. Much like the other of­fer­ings on this list the app

comes with the stan­dard vault that you ac­cess via a mas­ter pass­word, and in which you can see and up­date your var­i­ous ac­count lo­gin de­tails.

A free 30-day trial is avail­able, but af­ter that you’ll need to move onto a paid sub­scrip­tion that cur­rently costs £3.99 per month or £34.99 per year. For this you’ll be able to use the soft­ware on as many de­vices as you like, in­clud­ing the ac­com­pa­ny­ing iPhone and An­droid apps, the for­mer of which also sup­ports Touch ID to log in.

Se­cu­rity is again front and cen­tre, with 1Pass­word boast­ing end-to-end en­cryp­tion so only you will hold the key to your ac­count. AES 256-bit is the or­der of the day, and 1Pass­word mon­i­tors the ac­tiv­ity on your ac­count so it can send you warn­ings if any odd be­hav­iour is spot­ted.

One in­ter­est­ing new fea­ture is Travel mode. This al­lows you to com­pletely re­move cer­tain

in­for­ma­tion from your de­vice when go­ing abroad.

In these strange times, this could prove very use­ful if you’re pass­ing through some of the rather ag­gres­sive cus­toms check­points that now de­mand ac­cess to your de­vices. The best part is when you get home again ev­ery­thing can be re­stored by flick­ing a switch in the set­tings.

1Pass­word has won nu­mer­ous awards, and is al­ways an easy ser­vice to rec­om­mend. Based in Canada too, so you know they’re nice.

4. Keeper

Price: £22.99 per year from

Keeper claims to be “the world’s #1 most down­loaded pass­word man­ager & se­cure dig­i­tal vault”, pro­vid­ing its ser­vices to mil­lions of cus­tomers around the world.

This doesn’t come as a sur­prise when you see the fea­ture list and gen­eral pol­ish that the app con­tains. You can store un­lim­ited pass­words, have Keeper auto-gen­er­ate strong new ones and sync pass­words across mul­ti­ple de­vices, all while hold­ing credit card de­tails and other im­por­tant doc­u­ments in its se­cure vault.

There’s also sup­port for Touch ID on the Mac and iPhone, Ap­ple Watch com­pat­i­bil­ity, and the op­tion of us­ing two-step au­then­ti­ca­tion.

Per­haps one of the rea­sons for its pop­u­lar­ity is the rea­son­able pric­ing struc­ture. An in­di­vid­ual ac­count costs £22.99 per year and can be used on all of your de­vices (macOS, iOS, Win­dows and An­droid). That seems like a bar­gain to us.

5. EnPass

Price: Free from

Those look­ing for a sim­ple, se­cure so­lu­tion that doesn’t break the bank would do well to con­sider EnPass. It works on a de­vice by de­vice ba­sis, with the macOS client be­ing free and mo­biles cost­ing £9.99 each for a life­time li­cence. This is achieved due to the fact that EnPass doesn’t store any of your in­for­ma­tion on its servers. In­stead, ev­ery­thing is en­crypted and kept on your per­sonal de­vice. De­tails can be synced se­curely via iCloud, Drop­box, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, or ownCloud/ We­bDAV, to keep all of your de­vices in step.

You still have the clas­sic fea­tures of other pass­word man­agers, such as auto-fill forms,

se­cu­rity analysis of your pass­words and gen­er­at­ing com­plex re­place­ments eas­ily, se­cure stor­age for sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion and AES 256-bit en­cryp­tion, plus sup­port for iOS, An­droid and Ap­ple Watch de­vices.

It’s a lit­tle more hands-on than some of the oth­ers in this list, but we like the no-non­sense ap­proach and the fact that your data never leaves your de­vice.






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