Easy and effective password storage and sharing can enhance your overall user experience online, not to mention improve your productivity and ability to collaborate with others. However, doing so using unencrypted methods can also be dangerous, since it leaves your data open for interception. The good news is, these risky methods are totally avoidable because secure password management solutions do exist. With this in mind, we’ve collected a list of the seven most common password management mistakes to avoid and why.
Email –– Most email platforms are not encrypted and copies of the contents are often saved in multiple places including the providers’ backup servers. As a result, it’s best to avoid using email to share private information altogether.
SMS Text Message –– Like email, text messages are not secured with end-to-end encryption. Copies of the texts you send are stored and backed up in the cloud to prevent information loss. That being said, SMS text messages should never be used to share passwords or other sensitive information.
Spreadsheets –– Using spreadsheets on your computer might be convenient, but they are often stored locally on your device so accessing them on other platforms may become problematic. Storing passwords in a spreadsheet on your device lacks sharing capabilities for others who need easy access. You might wonder if cloud-hosted spreadsheets or shared folders are the solution –– and the answer, unfortunately, is no. Cloud-hosted spreadsheets and folders might make passwords more accessible to others but their lack of encryption and shared links without identity access controls will also leave your private data vulnerable to outside threats.
Sticky Notes –– The pitfalls of using sticky notes to record and share passwords may seem obvious but they continue to surface as a common method for recording and managing passwords both at home and in the workplace. The biggest risk associated with using sticky notes to record private business data is they can easily be accessed by others, or worse, lost and end up in the wrong hands. It’s best to avoid this risk and only use them for helpful reminders and to-do lists.
Notes Apps –– In the digital age, note-taking apps have become a common replacement for sticky notes. The types of information commonly found in note-taking apps today include passwords, social security numbers, and private billing information. What’s concerning about this is that users are often unaware that the majority of the note-taking apps are unencrypted by default. It’s safer to avoid using note-taking apps for password storage and sharing and consider more secure alternatives with note-taking ability, such as Bitwarden for example.
Memory –– In the 2022 World Password Day survey report, 68% of respondents said they favor security over convenience when it comes to managing their passwords. However, 55% selected Memory as their main method for accessing passwords. As we become more and more dependent on online applications, remembering dozens of strong, unique passwords is simply not feasible or realistic. Oftentimes many folks turn to reusing the same easy-to-remember password for multiple accounts. This is extremely risky because it only takes one of those accounts to get hacked for the rest to become vulnerable as well.
Browser-based Password Managers –– Most web browsers offer to store your passwords for you to make logging into your online accounts easy and painless. The challenge is, a password manager built into your web browser is not as secure or scalable as dedicated third-party password managers. Here’s why. Dedicated password managers like Bitwarden are available across all platforms, browsers, and devices. In contrast, built-in browser password managers are limited to that specific browser and do not enable users to store other sensitive information or allow secure sharing with others when necessary. A strong third-party password manager offers secure password sharing capabilities as well as easy-to-use desktop and mobile applications. This makes it safe to access and share your passwords securely and other sensitive information from anywhere, on any device, whenever you need it.
Boosting your security awareness online can lead to the use of password best practices that will protect your private information and completely transform your user experience into a positive one. As mentioned earlier, secure password storage and secure password sharing solutions actually do exist. Bitwarden, for example, was ranked by the US News as the #1 password management solution in 2021 for its robust security layers, open source transparency, and affordable pricing options.
Bitwarden enables users to store private information with cross platform compatibility so your information travels with you wherever you are, on any device. The ability to create an organization within your Bitwarden vault enables secure information sharing with other individuals or large groups, making it the perfect option for single users, teams, and organizations alike.
“Bitwarden topped our Best Password Managers of 2021 rating. Its generous free version and low-priced premium options played a big role in that score, coupled with feature sets that stand up well against competitors for both its free and paid options. Bitwarden has also set a good example with its approach to security, starting with opening its source code for anybody to download and inspect for vulnerabilities.”
US News, Best Password Managers of 2021
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Editor's Note: This article was originally written on May 24th, 2021 and was updated on August 27th, 2022.