The best password managers on the market

Secure password managers

In April 2014 the Heartbleed bug made news around the world. It compromised the security of several high-profile websites and many people were forced to change their passwords. Recently two new bugs, the Shellshock Bash bug and the Poodle bug, have made Internet users worried. These incidents occurring less than a year apart have placed the focus on online security seeing as so many people have sensitive information on the Internet (such as bank account details) that need protecting.

Here is a list of the best and most popular password managers currently on the market:

LastPass (lastpass.com)

Supported platforms: iOS, Android, Linux, Windows
Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera

Pricing: Free for use on Windows, Mac and Linux-supported PCs and laptops. Use of mobile apps requires purchase of premium option (14-day free trial available). Enterprise option available for businesses where pricing is calculating according to the amount of users (14-day free trial available).

The name for this password manager comes from the company tagline “The last password you have to remember.” This piece of software allows you to analyse each password you use based on length, the number of times it is reused on other sites, the strength, number of characters used and so forth. It also provides you with a global score for each password as well as a percentage score based on your password usage.

Lastpass can be managed through a browser rather than a dedicated application. Login details that have been saved on your account can be autofilled, saving you the effort of remembering all your passwords. A strong password can be generated for you should you think yours are not sufficiently secure and you can customize how these passwords look.

You can create multiple identities and dedicate certain accounts to an identity. Then you simply switch between identities based on what accounts you feel you will be using. You know those forms you have to fill in with your name, email address and other personal details that are sometimes tedious to complete? Lastpass provides you the option of entering these details to your account and then it autofills them.

Lastpass protects you against phishing attacks by placing its icons only on sites that you have previously visited and that are trusted. If you don’t see those icons on a site, you know that it is a fake and you should exit. Another security feature for your protection is OTP or one-time password. You can have Lastpass create one-time passwords that are “thrown away” after one use meaning that any keyloggers trying to access your accounts won’t be able to use the password that they have stolen.

For peace of mind, Lastpass stores an encrypted backup copy of your data in the cloud in case something should happen that makes you lose your account information (like getting a new computer).

1Password (agilebits.com/onepassword)

Supported platforms: Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android
Supported browsers: Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera

Pricing: Free

This password manager often pops up as one of the more popular ones out there. It’s most obvious feature is the fact that it has a clean, uncluttered interface with a type of bookshelf layout. Being a multi-platform manager, 1Password allows you to sync across these multiple platforms via Dropbox backups.

It not only saves passwords and the various accounts associated with them but also banking details and notes (called Secure Notes). You can manage multiple “vaults” in 1Password. These vaults can be shared which is great for when you need to securely share password information with a colleague or someone else. It is also a useful feature should have multiple users that want to save their password information on one account.

Your passwords can also be put into categories (or Smart Folders) to separate work and personal accounts from one another, and ultimately make it easier for you to access exactly what you want. To organize your accounts even better, the tag feature allows you to separate accounts within categories. You can also favourite your most used accounts to avoid going through those you only use once in a while.

It can generate secure passwords for you based on your own needs – you can make them pronounceable or not, add more or less characters and symbols, and so forth. 1Password also provides extra security with their Security Audit feature which notifies you of passwords that have been used multiple times across different accounts, or if your passwords are weak and thus easy to crack.

One of the newer features of 1Password is the ability to save multiple URLs to one account. This is helpful if one account has multiple functions and thus a different URL will take you to a different area of a site.

KeePass (keepass.info)

Supported platforms: It is only available for use with Windows but there unofficial ports for Linux, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone.
Supported browsers: Browsepass for Chrome

Pricing: Free

KeePass should be your first choice if you are looking for open source options. This means you have access to the source code and you can, if you have the expertise, check if the security is implemented correctly. People can also write plugins for KeePass to further extend its functionality. In comparison to the other password managers, KeePass may take some time to learn how to use.

Of course, KeePass stores your passwords and also generates strong passwords for you to use (with you defining the output characters). But there are many other features to this manager. You can both export and import your password list to various formats like CSV, HTML, TXT and so forth. KeePass doesn’t need to be installed and can be transported via USB thus no data is stored on your system. With this password manager you can use key files instead of a master password (if you choose) which is more secure. You simply carry the key file on a USB disk or burn it onto a CD.

KeePass has support for over 30 languages. It provides secure Windows Clipboard handling with timed clearance once you’ve finished copying passwords to ensure no-one can find them on your Clipboard. All fields, title, username, password, URL and notes can be dragged and dropped into other windows, and there is a hot key function for easy access to the correct password entry.

Dashlane (dashlane.com)

Supported platforms: Mac OS X, Windows, Nook, iOS, Android
Supported browsers: Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer

Pricing: Free but a Premium option is available. If you sign up for the free option first, you get a 30-day Premium trial with it.

This is a password manager that not only secures your passwords but also serves as a sort of digital wallet. It can store sensitive data like banking details and identity information (like your driver’s license). With regards to banking details, it supports debit and credit card details as well Paypal. You can also link these card details to specific billing addresses. Dashlane saves and itemises your receipts, and provides screenshots of your purchases for documentation purposes.

As soon as the Dashlane extension on your browser is installed, it will notify you of all the passwords that are already saved. You can then review these and have them encrypted. Clicking on the Dashlane icon in your browser or opening up the software, will allow you to create new, safer passwords as well as create new account entries. If you click on an entry that has been saved, it will take you to the relevant page and automatically log you in to that site.

Since Dashlane is multi-platform software, it can sync all of your data from the different platforms you have installed Dashlane on. Dashlane also provides a dashboard on your desktop for easy access that shows you all the details you have saved before. This dashboard provides you with an overview of your security health and, suggests any passwords that are not secure and may require to be changed.

Are you already using a different password manager to Dashlane? No worries, as you can import the database from that manager into Dashlane but it can be a little bit fussy. The import tool supports browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, and password managers like 1Password, Roboform, PasswordWallet, KeePass and custom CSV files.

Dashlane alerts you when there is the option to autofill a form with a blue impala icon (their signature) and then you simply select the correct information from a dropdown menu. For easy navigation, passwords can be categorized. Many people don’t like the fact that passwords and account details are automatically synced to the cloud so Dashlane provides the option to opt-out. Dashlane’s mobile apps are managed as separate databases so no need to worry about frequent cloud syncs that may slow you down.

Keeper Password Manager and Digital Vault (keepersecurity.com)

Supported platforms: Mac OS X, Windows, iOS, Linux Android, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire, Nook, Windows Surface Tablet
Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer

Pricing: Free for desktop. There is a Keeper Backup option for $9.99 per year (for individuals with only one device) and a Keeper Backup Unlimited option for $29.99 per year (for users with multiple devices). There is also a Keeper for Groups option starting at $299.99 that is good for offices where you can add as many users and devices as you want.

Keeper is perhaps not the most sophisticated of all the password managers but it is the most straightforward when it comes to use. It has also been around for about 3 years. Keeper provides, like many others, unlimited auto-sync and backup restore of data stored in the manager to save you the effort of re-entering all the information from scratch should you lose it.

Alongside filling in passwords that are associated with certain accounts and then automatically logging you in, you can also have Keeper auto-fill forms with your name, email address and other details. One of the newer features of Keeper is camera mode that encrypts and sends image you take with it to the cloud instead of storing them locally. This new feature is unfortunately not free and will cost you an extra $9.99 which will give you 10GB of storage for your pictures.

Syncing of Keeper account information occurs across smartphones, tablets and computers. You can also share details from your Keeper account with others. With this sharing feature you can control view and edit permissions, and you have an administrative console at your disposal.

A great, optional feature that Keeper has is the ability to self-destruct. This feature wipes all of your records in case the master password has been compromised or if it has been entered too many times. This way you know that your information will not be used maliciously.