How do you store and manage all of your passwords? If you’re like many people, you don’t have any kind of secure storage…your passwords are just sort of “saved” somewhere, or you make sure to use the same password every time or some variation of it so that you won’t forget. Both of these practices are…well, dangerous, to say the least; especially when such amazing tools like free online password managers exist. But what’s the difference between on and offline storage anyway?
On and offline attacks can both compromise your passwords, but there are some key differences between the two. Here, we’ll cover those differences and go over what makes a good password, why you should take greater care to protect your information, and how you can benefit from tools like an on or offline password manager.
Online Password Storage
Let’s say a hacker is attempting to break into your bank account. They’re logged on to your banking website, attempting username and password combinations. Most of the time, a website’s security features (especially a bank’s) will notice a specific number of incorrect login attempts. Most of the time, that number is about three. After that, you’ll be locked out of your account and sent an email or text with a link to let you back in. Or, you’ll have to call and regain access.
This is where most cyberattacks occur, but this method has drawbacks. For one thing, the site’s security measures will prevent too many incorrect login attempts. Secondly, the strength of the attack can depend on the network speed. You can only attempt so many logins per second.
Online attacks are also “noisy”. You’ll likely be notified when a strange login attempt is made. Out-of-state, out-of-country, or suspicious login activity is usually halted by the website’s authentication protocols.
Storing passwords online means you’re saving them in the cloud. Cloud storage has pretty much become the standard for websites and storage services, and cloud storage is generally secure and reliable. Online password storage requires one master password in order to allow login.
The drawback, of course, is that offline managers are connected to the internet. Anything connected to the internet carries the risk of being hacked. That being said, password managers carry powerful encryption to keep your passwords safe, so the risk is incredibly minimal.
Offline password managers create an encrypted file directly on your device storage, so your passwords are never connected to the cloud/internet. This helps reduce or eliminate the chances of someone getting ahold of your entire password manager account. However, if your device is stolen, there’s a chance your offline files could be accessed.
Why Use Password Managers?
Aside from increased security, password managers allow for a greater level of organization. Additionally, some services feature a password generator, so you can move away from your terrible passwords (no offence) containing personal dates, names, and numbers. Better passwords are more complex, don’t contain personal information, and contain a random assortment of letters, numbers, phrases, and symbols.
Let’s say your name is David and your birthday is on June 10th. David610 wouldn’t be a password you’d dream of using, right? You’d be surprised how many people create passwords like this purely out of convenience, and then go on to use the same password for all of their accounts!
Instead of using your name and birthday, which would be a giveaway to any experienced hacker, try the following:
Notice how this password has upper and lowercase letters, symbols, numbers, and a random phrase. “Color” has nothing to do with David’s birthday or personal information, and neither do any of the numbers. Plus, this password gets a 100% score on passwordmeter.com. It’s “very strong”, containing the right mix of characters.
Offline Vs. Online Storage
So, which storage method is better? Generally, it comes down to personal preference. Offline storage won’t be connected to the internet, but if your device is stolen, you could lose all of your passwords. If you’re using only online storage, there’s a chance you can be hacked.
The bottom line is that nothing is ever 100% safe when it has to do with an internet connection. Your online accounts might be hacked at one point or another, but creating strong passwords is a great first step to deterring hackers. Safely storing those passwords is just as important as creating good ones!
Choose a password manager that’s both secure and convenient for your life. There are many free options available online, so you won’t even have to spend any money to take the first step to greater security. Take control of your passwords today and start securing your online accounts against potential threats; and remember, don’t give out your passwords!