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Orange County Credit Union provides a broad range of banking products and services like checking, savings, loans, and investments for every season of life. Through our blog, our aim is to equip readers with helpful advice that will enable them to reach financial goals.

Should You Use an App to Store Passwords?

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Should You Use an App to Store Passwords?

Sandra Diaz

With increasing security measures to protect your data, many Web sites require you to create a complex password – mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and even special characters – to access your account. It’s just too difficult to several unique passwords without assistance. One solution to help you keep track of your passwords is to use a “password manager app.”

What is a Password Manager App?
You enter the login information (username and password) for various sites into the app. Then, you create a master password within the app to unlock it - this protects all of the passwords you stored.

Is It Safe?
The question that many people want to know is how safe is it to use one of these apps to store all your passwords. On the one hand, “you’re putting all of your security eggs in one basket” as the app stores all of your passwords. On the contrary, experts say it’s far less risky than reusing the same password from one site to another or writing down your passwords. 

When you use a password manager app it’s protected with, hopefully, a strong master password to unlock the password vault as well as PIN/passcode to unlock your phone. The key is to follow the recommended advice for creating a strong and complex master password. Not all apps are created equally so you need to thoroughly review any app before using it. At minimum, any information you enter should be encrypted and the master password not stored on the app creator’s servers.  

Is It Worth the Convenience?
Your online security is important, and only you can make the best decision that’s right for you. Remembering passwords to accounts you don't sign into very often can be difficult. Some Web sites may potentially lock your account if you input the wrong password too many times. Other Web sites may require you to reset your password if you’ve forgotten it, which can be time consuming and require extra verification steps.

Which One Should You Use?
It’s important that you do your own research. Evaluate several different apps like Dashlane, LastPass, and Keeper. It’s also worth looking into reviews to see what kind of experience others have had with these sorts of apps.  When selecting a password manager app, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your master password stored? If yes, do NOT use it. 
  • Does the app allow you to create a strong and complex (multiple characters with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers) master password? If no, do NOT use it. 
  • Is your information encrypted using the strongest method in the industry (256-bit AES)? If no, do NOT use it. 
  • What happens if you forget the master password? The best (unfortunately, not the most convenient option) is your information is deleted and you start over. 
  • Does the app generate strong and complex passwords for you to use? 
  • If you’re worried about using the cloud, does it have an option for you to store the data on your device? 
  • Does it offer additional authentication options like Google Authenticator or fingerprint scanning?