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  • How Password Managers Work
Technology Articles > Software > Security & Privacy > How Password Managers Work

Where Are All the Passwords Stored?

Password managers are the new way to store passwords. Before password managers, people actually had to (gasp!) remember passwords for various sites, which was, truthfully, easier said than done. Now that password managers are on the scene, there’s no real need to remember a password for any given site (though keeping your bank account password in mind is always a good thing). If you think about it, though, allowing some program to retain your precious passwords is risky – or is it?

Since I’m a big fan of always understanding what’s behind a program or how it works, I’m going to break down how password managers work in this article. Then, you can decide whether or not downloading the latest and greatest manager is a good or bad idea.

When you set up and install a password management program, you have to enter various passwords for a number of sites. Those passwords, in turn, have to be stored somewhere in order for the manager to automatically fill in forms when you visit certain websites. Have you ever wondered where those passwords are stored? Most password managers store passwords in a local file or database. These passwords are then retrieved when you need them.

However, you should note that all password managers are unique. Essentially, there are four different kinds of password managers including web-based, cloud-based, portable, and desktop. Additional types of managers exist, but these four are the four that you’ll likely come across on a regular basis. As far as these four password management types go, some are far more secure than others – and this, dear readers, is a really important point.

Which Password Managers Are Most Secure?

The problem with any kind of password manager that stores your passwords on a desktop or in a browser is that these passwords are susceptible to interception from outside sources. In short, hackers can steal your passwords if they are stored in a browser or on your desktop. The way to avoid this is to make sure that any password manager you use demands a master password in order to unlock a bevvy of additional passwords. Further, a password manager should be encrypted.

What about password managers that generate random passwords? If you can’t come up with your own long and tedious password that will pacify all programs and sites, some password managers may offer the option of using a computer-generated password. These management systems are useful, but only if the computer used to create random passwords is strong and secure. Otherwise, it’s relatively easy for a hacker to rip apart these generated passwords, since so many of them will likely be the same.

How to Choose The Best Password Manager

I’m going to spare you a long list of programs that may or may not work for you. Instead, I’ll simply go over what is listed above: make sure you choose an encrypted program; the master password method is superior; computer-generated passwords can be risky if not secure; and any password stored online or as part of a browser is vulnerable. If you keep these points in mind, you should be able to choose a password manager that will store your passwords, but won’t turn you into hacker bait.