You may know by now that you need a secure password manager. The best password is one even you don’t remember, but if you’re not used to using a password manager, it can seem daunting to set one up (and change all your passwords if you’ve been using weak ones). To sweeten the deal, there are a number of extra features that most popular password managers come with that can make the effort even more worthwhile.
Check for Compromised Accounts
It seems like every other week some major company or website has been hacked, potentially leaking your password. It can be exhausting keeping up with which sites are safe and where you might need to update your password. Usually, a website will email you after a breach to let you know that you need to change your password, but not all do. Rather than obsessively following the news to find out about the latest hack, password managers can let you know when an account has been compromised and tell you when a site has been compromised.
Since your password manager knows what your current password is (that’s its job, after all) and when it was added to your vault, it can tell if you haven’t updated your password since a known hack took place. Most password managers will collect all of these passwords in one place so you can check and update them if you need to.
Find Sites That Support Two-Factor Authentication
Almost more important than having a good password is enabling two-factor authentication wherever it’s available. Two-factor authentication uses codes generated by or sent to your phone in order to confirm that you’re not only who you say you are, but that you have something you said you would have (namely, your phone). This provides an extra layer of security, preventing someone who only has your username and password from gaining access to your account.
Unfortunately, not every website enables this feature. While some major sites encourage you to turn it on, many sites only offer it as an optional security feature buried in your account’s settings. Many password managers will highlight accounts you have with services that offer two-factor authentication so you can enable it if you haven’t already. This is a very handy feature and it’s worth checking your list from time to time to make sure that you have two-factor enabled in as many places as possible.
Store IDs and Credit Cards
Passwords aren’t the only sensitive information that you might want to save. For example, you shouldn’t store your credit card information in every online store you shop with, but you can save that information in a password manager. Entering a credit card number into your vault includes space for the card number itself, expiration dates, and security codes. The best password managers even notify you or flag your card information if it’s about to expire, and auto-fill it when you shop at a new site.
Depending on the password manager you use, there can be space for everything from your driver’s license, social security number, bank account information, or any other information you might need to keep safe. Any information that you might be tempted to write on a post-it note or keep in an envelope in the junk drawer is a good candidate to go in here.
Share Passwords With Other People
In general, you don’t want anyone else to have your password to an account. But there are exceptions. Whether it’s a shared account for a utility with your partner or the Netflix login you’re sharing with someone in the house, sometimes sharing a password is the simplest way to do things.
However, it’s still not a good idea to use a weak or memorable password (especially for something like the utilities). So, rather than sharing a long, complicated password—and telling the person you’ve shared it with every time you change it—most password managers allow you to share a password with someone else (as long as they use the same password manager, in most cases). You can share individual passwords or small collections of passwords with family members or team members at work
Safely Store Your Important Documents (or Your Nudes)
Password managers are often designed to serve as a vault for sensitive documents like business receipts or a copy of your will. While they may not be explicitly aimed at storing explicit photos, they can work that way. The safest way to keep intimate photos of yourself out of the wrong hands is technically to never take them at all, but it’s unrealistic to think that, in a time of social isolation, no one will take the chance. So, if you’re going to do it, at least practice safe sexting.
Apps like 1Password and Dashlane allow users to store files securely. While “files” can mean any file you want, it’s a handy place to store any files that you want to keep under extra protection. Password managers aren’t designed to be gallery apps, so it won’t be as convenient to look at any images you save later on, but it will also help prevent prying eyes from swiping to them when you show them something else on your phone. Just make sure to remove any local copies of files that exist outside the vault after you copy them inside.