Why Every Family Needs a Password Manager

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Why Every Family Needs a Password Manager

January 13, 2020
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Table of Contents

A password manager creates and stores unique passwords across every website or account you have. When you use a password manager, like Dashlane, you create a single “master” password (that you remember) to access the manager and then the manager creates and stores the rest.

SmartSocial Course: Why Every Family Needs a Password Manager

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Why you should never use the same password twice

Let’s say I use the same password for Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Gmail and Bank of America.

If Facebook gets hacked, hackers will find the database on the web, and try my email+password combination on 100+ other major sites to see if they can get into those sites.

If I have a unique password for each network, then hackers can only get access to that one network (my Facebook) but not get into dropbox/Gmail/etc. However, managing 100 unique passwords is difficult.

Most people have a sheet of paper (or a note in their phone) that saves all of their passwords so they can remember them.

That gets cumbersome and is not secure.

Why do families need a password manager?

  • Having a password manager drastically reduces the possibility of your family falling victim to ransomware, identity theft, malware, phishing, and other cyber attacks
  • Parents only need to remember one “master” password and the rest are stored and secure
  • We constantly hear about data breaches in the news. With a password manager you can have peace of mind knowing that you can easily change your password on the compromised account without hackers getting access to other accounts or personal information

What is ransomware?

  • Ransomware is a type of malicious software that holds your personal digital data for ransom
  • If you are affected by ransomware, you cannot gain access to your personal data without paying a fine
  • Most ransomware is disguised as a valid file in an email
  • The bad guys want you to say "I'm not rich or famous, I don't have anything anyone would want to steal"
  • However, you DO have something bad guys want. You have REAL relationships with your contacts and that is what they could use to impersonate you and send ransomware to all of your contacts
  • Hackers can also steal your digital photos and take away access to your photos
  • They can also hide all your contacts and make you pay them to get everything back

Benefits of having a password manager

  • Password manager programs remember (& encrypt) all of your unique passwords for you
  • Creating strong and unique passwords can be difficult (especially if you have a lot of passwords) but with a password manager, you don’t have to create any more passwords
  • Password managers can store passwords for every single person in your family. For example, if everyone in your family has a Gmail account, the password manager is able to store each individual username and password
  • Most password managers sync across all of your devices, so you don’t have to worry about typing long passwords with the little keyboard on your cell phone
  • Many password managers will auto-fill online forms with your saved data (even on your cell phone)

Password managers in the news

If you’re not using a password manager, start now. A password manager makes you less vulnerable online by generating strong random passwords, syncing them securely across your browsers and devices, and filling them in automatically. Wire Cutter (NY Times Company)
Using a password manager is far better for your overall security than not using one. TechCrunch
It has never been more necessary to secure your online accounts with a password manager and two-factor authentication, where available. PC Mag

What 5 experts say about password managers

Adrian Try headshot
Adrian Try

1. Teach students password safety

Adrian Try, Writer and editor, SoftwareHow

If you have kids, it’s too easy for your passwords to get out in the wild. You give them your Netflix password and they’ll pass it on to all of their friends who can’t stream. Once your passwords are out of your control, you never know what will happen to them. I know you shouldn’t have used the same password for Netflix and your bank account, but maybe you did.

A password manager can help. The top apps (including LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password) allow you to share access to your accounts without your kids ever knowing your passwords. They get access to what they need, but they can’t pass on the details to others. That’s the best of both worlds, and one of the best reasons for families to consider a quality password manager.

2. Families can keep hackers away

Porter Adams headshot
Porter Adams

Porter Adams, Disappear Digital

Families who don't defend themselves are easy targets for hackers. Start by learning what the hackers are trying to do. Then take action to stop them. Here are some common attacks against families and what you can do to stay safe:

Stolen passwords: Data breaches contain millions of hashed passwords. New data breaches are often posted to the dark web for hackers to search. If your password is too short, hackers will be able to crack the hash. To stay safe, use long and unique passwords on every account. You can either use a password manager or write your passwords on paper. If you use paper, make sure to keep a second copy in case you lose the original. To be extra careful, ask a professional to check if your passwords are already on the dark web.

Ransomware, Spyware, and other Malware attacks: Your home network is another easy target for hackers. Examples of attacks are ransomware, spyware in security cameras, and keyloggers to steal your passwords. The reason these attacks are so common is because your home router does nothing to stop them. By default, most home routers allow anyone from the internet to connect to the devices in your home. To protect your family, you should install a firewall on your home router. This is a necessary step if you want to keep hackers out of your home network. Additionally, you can connect your router to a VPN to keep your location private.

Rachel Wilson headshot
Rachel Wilson

3. Take the time to set-up and then easily use password tools

Rachel Wilson, Investigative Coordinator, Client Relations of The Smith Investigation Agency

As a mom of two school-aged children, I am extremely mindful of new and key ways to protect my family in our daily lives. Because families today are keeping more and more of our personal information on the web, protecting our loved ones online is a significant part of overall safety and well-being. This could include personal information such as family photos, important dates, banking information, family doctor and dentist, and school and home addresses.

Programs designed to keep us safe online are worth the time it takes for parents to learn about something new. Password managers are a simple but straightforward way to add that extra level of protection against spyware or hacking and these programs have come a long way in terms of being secure and easy to use.

For example, top-rated password manager programs allow families to share passwords for websites and accounts used by the entire family, while maintaining privacy for those programs that are used individually. We teach our children about bullying and road safety, and have begun to teach our children about online safety and cyberbullying. However, being mindful of and prepared against incoming attacks online is an important part of this equation. We lock the doors to protect our personal items at home; Why wouldn’t we ensure we are taking the same precautions on the web?

4. Create strong passwords

Kenny Trinh headshot
Kenny Trinh

Kenny Trinh, Managing Editor of Netbooknews

To protect your data and privacy online from hackers and data thieves, you need to have strong passwords. A strong password has to primarily have to be above 12 characters and include numbers, symbols, capital letters, and lowercase letters.

It is also recommended to have unique passwords for each account and avoid using a master password for all of it. But if you have more than 5 accounts, tracking all those passwords is not an easy feat, especially for your kids. This is where password managers come in handy. They can suggest strong passwords and then easily save those passwords on their database.

What can families do to prevent being targeted by a ransomware attack? The first step is using strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. Avoid password sharing as much as possible, as well. Beware of phishers. Do not automatically click on unfamiliar emails, especially if they are asking for account information. Do not provide personal information from other unsolicited, unknown sources such as random phone calls, text messages or instant messages.

Gabe Turner headshot
Gabe Turner

5. Protect passwords to protect your family's security

Gabe Turner, Director of Content at Security Baron

Families need to use password managers to protect  their financial data including credit, debit, or bank account numbers, health information, as well as basic information like addresses. You may not realize how much data your family has to protect, but if hackers get access to your accounts, they may be able to contact or go to your child’s school, access their private health information like the medications they’re taking, or even file a tax return in your child’s name as a form of identity theft.

What can families do to prevent being targeted by a ransomware attack?

  • Backup data: Use a local hard drive or thumb drive. You can also store your family's data on encrypted cloud storage such as a Dropbox. This is also a good place to store family photos that you want to keep safe.
  • Use antivirus software: This one’s obvious, but it’s the most effective way to prevent a ransomware attack. If you have a strong firewall in place and consistently perform security updates, that is your best defense, so long as the software is from a respected company.
  • Keep personal information out of your messages: Although it’s much easier to simply write out your credit card number to your partner or text your child’s nurse their medication dosage, this information is much better said in person or over the phone. Even an old-fashioned letter is more secure than an email or text! That being said, make sure you're talking to the right person over the phone, as phone scams have become increasingly common.

What can parents do?

  • Consider setting up a password manager for your family
  • Teach your children to follow security best practices, such as:
  • Never use the same password across multiple accounts
  • Only log into websites that start with “https”
  • Avoid using personal info in your passwords, instead create long passwords with unique characters
  • Keep your passwords private and never share them with your BFF
  • If you don’t have a password manager, write all of your passwords on a sheet of paper, seal it in an envelope, and give it to your parents for safe keeping
  • Join the Smart Social Membership to learn how to set up a password manager for your family (and get our suggestion for the best one)
  • Josh will walk you, step-by-step, through the set up process
  • Learn the ins-and-outs of easily keeping your family’s data secure

Conclusion

While many families don’t think they have anything worth “hacking” - that couldn’t be further from the truth. If your family doesn’t already use a password manager, now is a great time to start.

Join our our workshop: Why Every Family Needs a Password Manager. Or, join our monthly membership to get access to our up-to-date safety videos that motivate your students to stay safe and positive online.

View the SmartSocial VIP (Very Informed Parent) Course: Why Every Family Needs a Password Manager

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