Password managers are applications that store passwords and other credentials you use to access online sites and services. Most also can suggest strong passwords based on criteria you select (for example, number of characters and character types).
University of Iowa IT security professionals recommend using a password manager to store HawkIDs logins/passwords and other credentials.
A good password manager can generate strong passwords, make logins easier, and reduce the need to change passwords. They also reduce the tendency to re-use the same password for multiple services (a major security risk).
The university doesn’t provide password management software or endorse specific products. But we can offer some considerations for choosing the password manager that’s right for you:
Security: Look for password managers that use strong encryption. They’re much more secure than the basic password management tools built into web browsers, for example.
Fee or free: Some password managers are free. Others charge a subscription fee (usually a few dollars a month). Some companies offer a free basic version of their password manager but charge a subscription fee for the full version.
Discounts: If you’re exploring a paid password manager, check whether you might be eligible for a student or higher-education discount.
Trial options: Some paid password managers offer a free trial period. This can allow help you test the product on your devices before making a purchase decision.
Device and browser support: The best password managers work across your computer, phone, and other devices and keep your data in sync. They may also offer extensions for the web browser(s) you use. Note that you may need to download software for each of your devices/browsers.
Master password: When you set up your password manager, you’ll create a single master password for the password manager application itself (some apps also support face recognition or fingerprint logins). Choose a strong master password you can remember or keep documented in a secure location.
Multi-factor authentication: If your password manager offers multi-factor authentication, turn it on. This adds another layer of security that protects your stored passwords.
Password import: You may be able to import an existing list of passwords from another system or as a CSV file. If you need to manually add passwords to your password manager, you can start with the ones you use most and add others over time.
Additional features: Some password managers also offer secure file storage or services that alert you about potential security breaches (e.g., stolen passwords circulating on the dark web).
For more information—including password-manger ratings and recommendations—go to passwordmanager.com, a service of the Global Cyber Alliance.