In today's episode we are going to be talking about password managers. What you need to look for and why it’s important for you to have this in your arsenal as an entrepreneur? We are going to talk about the benefits and we are also going to discuss developing your requirements document that you will use to select the password manager that is right for you.
There are a number of benefits to having a password manager in your technology ecosystem. Many people don’t realize how much time they waste looking for or changing their passwords. They are also putting themselves at risk by not having secure passwords or continuing to use passwords that may have been exposed during a system breach.
So below, I will detail out a few of the benefits I have experienced with having a password manager that you will want to think about:
Now, how many of you have passwords stuck on sticky notes on your computer? On your desk in notebooks? Maybe you have a binder where you keep all of them. Yes, I know it's very well organized, but it's in a physical book that can be lost, stolen or may not be available when you need it. If you are in another physical location and you need a password that is in your physical book, that just happens to be sitting on your desk in your Home Office...how is that helpful? You would have to call somebody to give you the password or you’d have to delay whatever action you were trying to take until you were back home. This is not only inconvenient but can easily be a huge problem for you.
If you are feeling seen right now. You are bobbing your head or smiling because you have been there, then a password manager is something that you should think about having in your technology ecosystem. In most cases, a password manager is going to be cloud based (I recommend you only select a cloud-based system, but that’s a personal choice and is dependent on your personal requirements and comfort levels).
I recommend a cloud-based system because it will give you access to your information no matter your location. You can load it on your mobile device, in your browser, you can have a desktop app. Your physical location really doesn’t matter as long as you have the “master password” to get into your vault.
Another reason to have or a benefit of a password keeper is the ability to segment out and keep track of passwords for different areas of your life. So, let's assume you are a side hustler. You have your personal life, your career life, and your entrepreneurial life. Each part is a different division of you, and each division has passwords associated with it. Well, you can use one password manager to segment into the various areas of your life.
Just take a second and think about all the distinct types of passwords you have. If you are anything like me, you have your work passwords and systems, your entrepreneurial passwords and systems, your household passwords and systems and your children’s passwords and systems. It’s important for you to be able to not only have access to these passwords, but to break them into the various scenarios that you have in your situation.
The other benefit having a password manager gives you is the ability to share your passwords without exposing your actual password(s). It cloaks the actual information, so those you are sharing the password with (I.e., virtual assistants) can access the system or account without knowing what your actual password is. It gives you a level of security that you wouldn’t have if you just gave out your actual password. Think about a situation where you have several different Virtual Assistants or better yet, you need to share information with family members in case of an emergency or when only one person is named on an account. The share feature also allows you to follow the proper protocols of periodically changing your password at your leisure without wondering if you gave the updated password to others. You can also resend the access to your information as well if someone leaves or no longer should have access. It's another layer of protection for you, your family, and your business.
As much as we may hate to think about being in a natural disaster, the reality that it is a real possibility can’t be ignored. A password manager in these situations can be the peace you need at the right time. Ok let's think about the situation of a flood, tornado, earthquake, or fire. All of these in some form or fashion will have an effect on your physical stuff. In my area, we've been hit with all of these in some form or fashion (even earthquakes, but not to the extent of other cities). In a flood, everything's wet often times your electricity is out and if you are in the affected area, you may not be able to get out for days and mobile phones may or may not be down too. You know those passwords you wrote down on a piece of paper or in a book, they are ruined because your sticky notes or book got wet, and the ink has run on the paper making your passwords illegible. In a tornado, your passwords could end up across town because the tornado picked up your office and distributed it all over the place. And we all know what happens in a fire.
So, when you think about disaster recovery and your passwords, your password manager is more than likely cloud based. You can practically access it from anywhere, or guide someone through accessing it for you (if you haven’t shared the access with them already as part of your Disaster Recovery Plan).
It is much more common to hear about data breaches than it was several years ago and that is because more things are electronic now. It’s the same thing just in a different covering. People are much more aware of the importance of security, but even though you are more aware and hopefully more vigilant, you aren’t sitting and digesting it constantly. So it is extremely important to have a partner that can help you navigate those things that you need to be aware of or you need to think about. They know the risk level of the various things being reported in the news and in the security community. They know, for example, that passwords now are upwards of 10 + characters and better yet a passphrase is even better. Your password manager is truly a partner in your security and can feed you and keep you abreast of those types of security changes in our industry that will help protect you and your family a little better.
There are a number of different password managers on the market. There are those that have a tiered plan (I.e., free, paid and family paid). There are browser plug-ins that will popup and ask you if you want to save the password and it will really come down to your personal preference as well as your requirements document. What is important to you and what do you need.
The number one piece of advice I can give you is to do your research regarding the functionality and the abilities of the tool that you are using or looking into using. So I want to share a few of the requirements I would recommend you add to your list when researching and comparing tools prior to adding them to your technology suite.
Make sure you can graduate from one level to the next and you don’t have to export/import from personal to business/family. Ultimately, you don’t want to have different systems for the different use cases in your life. You want to be able to say, hey, these passwords that I'm putting in right now are for my business or I need to have access to be able to do all these different things.
The ability to group password similar types of passwords. This will allow you to put all of your streaming account passwords or all of your social passwords together. Some tools don’t allow grouping or have it on a paid plan.
Additionally, are you able to share password groups or do you have to share them one at a time. This may not be a big issue for you, but in your business it may become a bigger need. Not being able to do this would be very time-consuming depending on how many passwords you have. You also want to make sure there is no cost to share or ensure it isn’t only available on a specific plan level.
Does the person you want to share with have to have an account, and if they have to have an account, can they be on a free account while I'm on a paid account?
Ensure your tool is browser based. Ultimately, can it travel with you or is it only locally saved on your computer? So let me explain this. So there are some tools that, although they appear to be browser based, they are saving your data and your information into a file that is only local on your device. The problem with that is if I am on another computer and I need to access that password, I don't have access to it. Because although it's "browser-based” it really is just pulling from a locally saved file on your computer and allowing you to utilize that within your browser.
The ability to utilize it on any of your devices, be that your mobile phone, your laptop, your work laptop, your personal laptop/desktop. Even on someone else’s computer.
Determine whether your tool of choice has the ability to import or export passwords. This is helpful for those who have all your passwords systematically in an Excel document and can import it in. You also will want to periodically export, encrypt, and save it in your Disaster Recovery packet. For many the import is usually a low base requirement, but the export should be a high priority requirement.
The final thing that I want to encourage you to do is to really look at your tools, security levels and disaster recovery plan. This tool is going to be housing all of the keys to your kingdom, so you want to make sure that it is extremely secure. You want to make sure they have bank level security, if not higher and protocols they follow if a breach is discovered, or a disaster happens (something affects its data centers). If the tool doesn’t openly talk about their security level and protocols (note: there are limits to how much they will share due to security restrictions), then I would recommend not using that tool. You want to have something that you feel confident in and know that it is protecting your best interests.
So hopefully now you have all the information you need to make an informed decision regarding whether or not a password manager is needed in your business, home and life and if so how to select the right one for you.
The Organized Holistically podcast strives to teach side-hustling solopreneurs how to manage a successful business and life using holistic systems. I help you develop, implement and streamline unique and organic processes and organizing systems. I do this by helping you identify the right systems and processes so you aren't spending money or time on unnecessary things and instead can spend that time and money focusing on the things that are most important to you, your family.