No-Fear Password Management

Many people are scared off from installing and using a password manager because they fear making a mistake somewhere and forever losing access to websites that are linked to their well-being. The password manager companies don’t help because they use too much jargon and dance around the issues that concern customers.

One of our clients decided to take the plunge, making sure we were in the water with them until they were confident they could swim safely.

The two password issues they wanted to solve were: 1.) they needed to remember or have written access to more than 100 website accounts, and 2.) they were concerned they were reusing too many passwords or combinations of passwords for expediency (or convenience). All the descriptions from password manager sales sites claimed they were easy to use, but our client never felt comfortable with how the steps to set up and use the manager would give them easy, secure access.

In this case, we helped them set up Dashlane, which they are keeping after a 30-day trial. The process involved creating an account with Dashlane and using Microsoft Authenticator to make sure all the information they were adding would be secure. For this client, it involved using the computer to create the account and the Authenticator app on the cell phone. It also involved setting up the Dashlane extension through their web browser. On a computer, Dashlane installs as an extension of your web browser, and you can activate it at any time by clicking its icon. They installed the Dashlane app on their cell phone, where it essentially self-activates when you start the login for a website.

The first part of the setup involved creating the master password to reach their own “vault,” which is the general term for the place where you store your username and password for each site you visit. Our client created one that had upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers and special characters. It was special enough to remember and not too laborious to type on a keyboard or mobile device. They were also prompted to create a PIN that will be used as part of an access-recovery process if it’s ever needed. They wrote the info on a piece of paper and put it in a safe place.

The rest of the setup was straightforward. We advised our client to enable Dashlane to control the storage of usernames and passwords and to disable websites, Google, Microsoft and others from storing that info. It makes Dashlane more efficient. You can save “Remember Me” information.

One other setup item that’s vital to look at is your Password Health Score. You can access it from the menu along the left side of your Dashlane screen; it has a heart rate monitor icon. It will tell you where you are reusing passwords and how many of your sites have the same password. The idea is to get to a score of 100, but you may have reasons to use the same word from some sites, such as shared sites for video streaming. You can change them during setup to use Dashlane-generated passwords, or you can change them later. Our client opted to change them later – after all their sites were put into Dashlane.

One thing our client found early on is that Dashlane-generated passwords are not accepted at all sites. It wasn’t a problem. Dashlane allows you to see the entire generated password, and you have the option to add a character. Most times, that’s all that’s needed.

The tedious part of installing Dashlane is to log in to every website you visit and allow Dashlane to save your username and password. Make sure you’re signed into Dashlane when you log into the site. Our client found it best to make sure their current saved password was working before responding to Dashlane’s request to save the login credentials. While it’s a simple process, they noted that you have to make sure Dashlane saves the email address or username you use for the website you’re saving. By default, Dashlane uses the email address you tied to Dashlane. Your login info will automatically be saved to any other devices you’re using with Dashlane.

As with all password managers, Dashlane allows you to download your login info for each website you have in its system. It’s a good idea to keep the list up to date and stored in a safe place. If you decide to stop using any password manager, you’ll need that list to reenter all your passwords manually. If you change password managers, be sure to take advantage of any capability to transfer your credentials. If not, you’ll have to renter everything.

Dashlane and most password managers have free versions, but they are limited to one device and a specific number of websites. Paid versions typically allow you to store login credentials for a virtually unlimited number of sites across multiple devices – and they have family plans or group plans for multiple users.

Whichever password manager you choose, you’ll upgrade your online security significantly. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to learn more or have us walk you through the initial setup steps.