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The problem with passwords
Security analysts widely agree that the modern reliance on the combination of a username and password to secure websites, accounts, and other sensitive information, is highly flawed. The problem is obvious to anyone who uses the internet with any regularity; it is simply too difficult to memorize the sort of unique, complex passwords that are necessary to securely protect an account.
Especially when you’re a member of many different survey panels, it’s easy to start reusing the same password (or slight variations thereof) for every new account, opening the door to identity theft and other problems. If only a single site is breached, then all of your accounts are potentially vulnerable.
Equally bad is the alternative: using weak, easy-to-remember passwords like a child’s birthday or a pet’s name invites easy password cracking. The widespread proliferation of fast and efficient password cracking tools has brought hacking tools to even inexperienced or amateur hackers the world over. Simply put, the system has reached a crisis point.
There is a solution
What if instead of relying on human memory to store unique and complex passwords for each account, there could be a way to write down and store the passwords somewhere safe? And what if a system could be devised that could help you pick an appropriately complex password? This is the power of the password manager.
Put simply, a password manager is a program or system that creates and securely stores passwords for multiple websites and accounts. Think of it like a bank vault: it is a secured, locked box, safe from intrusion, and only accessible with a single key – but one which even the bankers do not have access to.
In the same way, a password manager is a digital vault, accessible only with a master password, and the “key” known only to the user. Rather than having to remember dozens of passwords, the user then, only needs to remember one – the system does all the rest.
What about security?
The first and most important question concerns the security of the “vault” and how it is secured. Most password managers use some form of SHA-256 encryption, an industry-standard way to turn typed text into unreadable gibberish for safe storage.
Furthermore, password managers almost always use some sort of additional protection for the “vault”; this includes various clever mathematical ways of slowing down password cracking software, to force it to take much longer per guess. A combination of solid encryption and a user-chosen master password that is long and complex, makes the “vault” effectively impervious to even the most determined hacker.
While having a password manager allows you to safely store unique passwords, it doesn’t do any good if you’re still choosing insecure passwords. The average person may not even know the difference between a strong password and a poor one.
Thankfully, most password managers include a feature to generate a randomized password that is sufficiently complex, for use on new websites. Building a password out of a random string of fifteen or twenty characters, using symbols, upper and lowercase letters, and numbers, is a potent tactic for safe account information, and password managers make this a one-click solution.
One of the best features of password managers is their ease of use. Rather than trying to remember the login information for dozens of survey sites and other websites, the manager often includes a program, web browser plugin, or other useful tool to auto-complete account information.
Many password managers even include secure notes or form fillers, allowing the user to safely store address information, credit cards, or other private information in a single, easily-accessible place. Rather than typing and retyping this information when opening a new survey panel account or joining a new GPT program, a single click on the password manager fills in the registration form, allowing you to focus on actual survey taking, rather than wasting time on a join page.
Paid and free: what’s the difference?
Most password managers include all the features mentioned above, in free versions of the software. The benefits however, especially shine in the paid versions.
Paid versions of password managers frequently gives you access to versions of the program that work across all devices: desktops, tablets, smartphones, and more, even browser-based versions for traveling or using public computers. As well, there are no limits to how many passwords can be stored in your account, and for even more security, sometimes additional authentication measures can optionally be enabled.
Having access to these premium features can vary in price, but a typical password manager software subscription is pretty affordable, at about $20 per year.
A tool every serious survey taker should use
If you’re a serial survey taker, a password manager is a tool that will save you a ton of time and aggravation. Navigating through the nightmare of constantly resetting passwords, trying to choose new ones, and coming up with solutions to store your existing passwords is eliminated through use of a good password management program.
Password managers do much more than simply securing and protecting your passwords – their ease of use and convenient additional features truly can streamline and create efficiencies with your daily online activities.