Best password managers of 2017

Best password managers of 2017: Reviews of the top products. If you’re still using your dog’s name to log in to your bank, you are courting disaster.

BY MICHAEL ANSALDO

We are terrible at passwords. We suck at creating them (the top two most popular remain “123456” and “password”), we share them way too freely, and we forget them all the time. Indeed, the very thing that can ensure our online security has become out biggest obstacle to it. This is what makes a good password manager essential.

You may also like: Best free password managers

A password manager relieves the burden of thinking up and memorizing unique, complex logins-the hallmark of a secure password. It allows you to safely share those logins with others when necessary. And because these tools encrypt your login info in a virtual vault—either locally or in the cloud— and lock it with a single master password, they protect the passwords themselves.

But password managers vary widely in their capabilities and cost, so we compared six of the most popular. All support Windows Mac OS, Android, and iOS, as well as the major browsers. And all will let you sync your data across multiple devices, though you may have pay extra for the privilege.

Here are our top two picks, followed by tips on what to look for when shopping for a password manager and full reviews of all six products.

BEST OVERALL PASSWORD MANAGER

LastPass ticks all the boxes on our password manager want list. It

Its password auditing and updating features let you identify and eliminate weak or duplicate passwords with just a mouse click or two.

makes it a breeze to create unique, complex passwords; capture and manage login credentials; sync them across multiple devices; and share them with others you trust. Its password auditing and updating features let you identify and eliminate weak or duplicate passwords with just a mouse click or two. It also stores credit card numbers and other personal data to autofill web forms when you’re making a purchase, signing up for a service, or paying a bill.

LastPass also supports a range of multi-factor authentication options for protecting

LastPass displays all your login accounts as tiles in its virtual vault.

LastPass displays all your login accounts as tiles in its virtual vault.

your vault, including app-based authenticators like Symantec VIP and Google Authenticator, hardware tokens like YubiKey, and fingerprint readers. And its -a-year subscription is a steal when other password manager services charge as much as for a single user.

RUNNER-UP

Dashlane is the strongest contender for LastPass’s crown. It has a beautiful interface, is easy to use, and is stocked with features to help you strengthen your online security. Chief among these is a stellar security dashboard that grades your passwords and suggests actions for boosting your score and your protection. Only its price tag the highest in our roundup-dampened our enthusiasm for this fantastic password manager.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PASSWORD MANAGER

At their most basic, password managers capture your username and password— usually via a browser plug-in-when you log in to a website, and then automatically fill in your credentials when you return to that site. They store all your passwords in an encrypted database, often referred to as a “vault,” which you protect with a single master password.

Of course, most password managers do much more than this and many extend protection beyond your login credentials to other types of personal data. We narrowed it down to a few essential features that we looked for and you should too:

Dashlane will evaluate and rate your passwords and tell you how to make them stronger.

Dashlane will evaluate and rate your passwords and tell you how to make them stronger.

Password generation:

You’ve been reminded ad nauseam that the strongest passwords are long, random strings of characters, and that you should use a different one for each site you access. That’s a tall order. This is what makes password generation— the ability to create complex passwords out of letters, numbers, and special characters-an indispensable feature of any good password manager. The best password managers will also be able to analyze your existing passwords for weaknesses and upgrade them with a click.

Autofill and auto-login: Most password managers can autofill your login credentials whenever you visit a site and even log you in automatically. Thus, the master password is the only one you ever have to enter. This is controversial, though, as browser autofill has long been a security concern, so the best managers will also let you toggle off this feature if you feel the risk outweighs the convenience.

Secure sharing: Sometimes you need to share a password with a family member or coworker. A password manager should let you do so without compromising your security.

Two-factor authentication: To an enterprising cybercriminal, your password manager’s master password is as hackable as

Most password managers can autofill your login credentials whenever you visit a site and even log you in automatically.

any other password. Increasingly, password managers support multi-factor authentication—using a second method such as a PIN, a fingerprint, or another “trusted device” for additional verification—to mitigate this risk. Choose one that does.

Protection for other personal data: Because of how frequently we use them online, credit card and bank account numbers, our addresses, and other personal data can be securely stored in many password managers and automatically filled into web forms when we’re shopping or registering an account.

No online security measure is 100 percent foolproof, though, as we were reminded when LastPass, one of the most reputable password managers, recently scrambled to fix a pair of vulnerabilities that could have compromised users’ passwords and their computers. And just last month, OneLogin was victim of a breach that compromised customer data, including the ability to decrypt data.

Still, most security experts agree that password managers are still the safest way for people to manage their myriad logins, and we agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks. Just choose your password manager carefully after researching all the options starting with the guide.

Let us know your thoughts on a product or view reviews from our members, independent experts and other websites.

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