What is a Password Vault?

So what is a password vault, and how does it help? These services act as a secure repository for all your credentials. Generally, they operate as plug-in to your web browser or a separate application on your mobile device. You sign in to your vault using a single password – and this is the only password you must remember. When you navigate to a site requiring a login, the password vault can usually auto-fill your credentials. Most will recognize when you enter credentials that are not already stored in the vault – then offer to add them for future use with a single click. When creating a new password, most will generate a very complex and very long password for you and store it automatically. By making the generation and storage of strong passwords easy, these programs eliminate the human tendencies that incentivize weak passwords and password re-use.

As a general rule of thumb, sharing passwords is a bad idea because it makes attribution difficult. If more than one person is using the same credentials, how do we know who to blame if the account is used inappropriately? But in the real world, there are times when we need to share passwords both in our personal and professional lives. Family and Enterprise versions of password vaults enable you to easily share passwords. You can also designate an emergency contact, who can apply to receive access to all your credentials (shared and non-shared) in the event you are incapacitated. A few years ago, my father passed away and I was named the executor. I spent countless hours in that first hectic week simply gaining access to the accounts needed to make final arrangements. I sleep much more soundly at night knowing that when the inevitable happens, my loved ones will not have to endure the same experience.

Most of these applications can store much more than just usernames and passwords. Securely store family social security numbers, bank account numbers, home alarm safe words, or just about anything else. Some, such as LastPass, allow you to securely store documents such as birth and marriage certificates.

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