As a managed services provider, you need to keep your solution stack lean and profitable. Because security demands are always changing, you must carefully select tools that provide substantial benefit to yourselves and your clients – not tools that just add cost and complexity. In this post, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of using a password manager, how they reduce work and risk for the MSP while adding minimal costs.
Password management tools have come to the forefront in recent years. Not just for IT professionals and MSPs, but for end users who are looking to simplify their password hygiene. This is no surprise, as experts know that password security is a pivotal part of their layered IT approach. Meanwhile, end users are being asked to create — and memorize — countless strong, unique passwords.
In a world where 75% of Americans feel frustrated trying to maintain and keep track of their passwords, password managers just make sense.
That said, there are still organizations and individuals out there who haven’t discovered the undeniable simplicity of using password management. While others may be choosing not to use such a tool because of a perceived learning curve or security risk.
It’s important to fully understand any benefits and pitfalls of password managers to make an informed decision about using them. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of using a password manager, as well as a few important bonus facts that could help steer you.
Why Password Managers Are Recommended
Some were suspicious of the reliability and the security of password managers early in their arrival to the market. A few of the earliest password managers were targets of successful exploits and compromises, damaging the public perception of such tools. For a time, password management tools were seen as security risks, not boons.
These days, most of the leading choices are secure, encrypted, and feature-rich. It’s hard to find a cybersecurity expert who wouldn’t recommend a trusted password management tool. (The common thinking is that even if a password tool were a risk, it’s less of a risk than allowing an entire organization to use weak, recycled passwords.)
The dangers involved with using recycled, short, or easily guessed passwords are widely known. The likelihood of poor passwords leading to an incident is rather high because they create a weak link. So what are the pros and cons of using a password manager?
The Cons of Password Management
We’ll start out by looking at any possible drawbacks to using a password management tool. While there aren’t many reasons not to use these tools in today’s cyberthreat environment, some concerns continue to circulate.
1. Devices and browser support:
Different tools support different devices and software, so it’s important to choose a password manager that works well with your needs. Some managers do not work on every device, while others only work in specific web browsers. In these cases, support can be considered a drawback. However, this can usually be avoided entirely by choosing the right password management tool.
2. A single point of failure:
Password managers ask you to set a master password that is used to access any site or service that the tool manages. This master password is incredibly important, so it does create a single point of failure. If a user loses their master password or other identifying information, they could lose access to all of their passwords all at once. Likewise, if your master password fell into the wrong hands, it would allow a bad actor to access any account saved in the password manager.
3. Some do not work with all websites:
Again, this comes down to choosing the right tool for your use case. Some password managers do not work correctly on all websites. They may not recognize that a login is being requested, or they may not autofill a login form. In these cases, the user will either need to trigger the password manager manually or input their login and password without the help of the tool.
4. False sense of security:
The downfall of many security solutions is that they can lull users into a false sense of security. It’s not uncommon for any solution or tool to be viewed as a “silver bullet” or cure all for security. As such, the end users may feel less of a need to self-police their habits. For example, users may stop practicing phishing awareness because they feel their accounts are protected. While password managers are a beneficial addition to a security stack, clients and end users should be made aware that it doesn’t eliminate the need for other cybersecurity measures. Especially awareness training and vigilance.
5. Poorly-protected managers:
Password managers can be a security threat if they do not encrypt their data. Hackers know that compromising a password manager is like getting the keys to the castle. Because of this a strong encryption must be in place to prevent access to your saved passwords. The best password tools — such as Password Boss — use AES 256 bit encryption providing a high level of security.
Before we move into “pros”, it’s important to remember that not all password manager tools are the same. Some of these pros or cons of using a password manager will not apply to every option (such as in the example of unencrypted password tools.)
The Pros of Password Management for MSPs
1. Spend less time on password resets.
You’re familiar with how much time and attention is spent resolving password reset tickets. For the MSP, time management is everything when it comes to efficiency and profitability. The best way to save time and keep your technicians focused is to avoid as many minor problems as possible. Password managers do this quite well.
2. Reduce risks.
User password hygiene is not only important to your clients’ security, but yours as well. When all of your end users’ passwords are unique and sufficiently complex, you greatly reduce the risk of a data breach impacting your client, and by extension, your reputation as an MSP. You probably already know that teaching password hygiene is often an uphill battle, but password management makes it much easier.
3. Incorporate Single-Sign On (SSO) and Multi-factor Authentication (MFA).
SSO provides the ultimate seamless login experience for your users. It can also help with managing credentials because there are fewer passwords, fewer login portals, and fewer app setups to handle. In addition, multi-factor authentication is a password manager feature that provides considerable value. With MFA, users must submit additional verification when they log in, usually by using a different device. This extra layer of security makes it much harder for malicious actors to gain access, even if they obtain or guess the account’s username and password.
5. Easier administration of credentials.
A password management solution can make managing your clients’ passwords much easier. The right password manager will let you view, manage, and access end users passwords through a single portal.
The Pros of Password Management for Users
1. Does a straightforward and important task well:
Most cybersecurity experts recommend using password management tools, largely because there is no better means to practice good password hygiene. In other words, password managers do exactly what they’re expected to — increase password security — without added hassle. This allows end users to easily follow the recommendations of cybersecurity experts and better work toward the common goal of risk mitigation.
2. Easy to create and use long, random, complex passwords:
The real benefit of a password manager is that it allows users to use unique, complex passwords for every account without having to memorize them. Since the average user has to login to dozens (sometimes 100 or more) accounts, this can be a nearly impossible task without “cheating” — writing down the passwords, saving them on the local device, or leaving browser-level autofill’s in place. Such decisions are security risks in and of themselves. Not only can a password tool manage all of these passwords safely, it can also generate long, randomized passwords that meet recommendations.
3. Auto-logon and form fills:
A password manager can auto-fill login information to take extra steps out of the user’s workflow. It’s also easy to call up the password manager to fill in the password on an ad-hoc basis when needed. This works differently than the password vault on a web browser which is often an obvious and easy-to-hack target. (When using a password manager, disable the option for your web browser to save passwords.)
4. Stores password recovery questions:
Sometimes it’s hard to remember your answers to password recovery questions. Additionally, some experts recommend not giving correct answers. This is so that hackers can’t guess their way past them using data they’ve mined from social media. Since most password managers can also store recovery answers in their secure vaults, users can set recovery question/answers with randomized characters so that they work like an additional layer of passwords.
5. Can work across multiple devices:
The best password managers work across a wide range of devices and applications. As long as you choose one that has a wide range of support, you can easily share passwords and login credentials across all of your devices.
How Does Password Boss Compare?
We developed Password Boss with MSPs in mind, which meant that our tool had to work for a wide spectrum of use cases. That means we’re always working to maximize compatibility and support, and we’ve made your clients’ security our highest priority.
Being channel-focused, IT providers know they can easily incorporate Password Boss into their security stacks, configure all of their clients’ password management through our multi-tenant portal, and enjoy fast-ramping ROI from an in-demand solution.
The Final Word
Is the final word on password management “for” or “against”? For many cybersecurity experts, the answer is a vehement endorsement for password managers. While every solution will have upsides and downsides, one can’t deny that password managers solve a large problem. With the knowledge of the pros and cons of using a password manager, the decision can be made much easier.
There’s currently no easier way to facilitate good password hygiene throughout an entire organization. When end users are no longer asked to memorize dozens of complex passwords, the likelihood of their compliance with security standards increases significantly. Password managers like Password Boss make this possible.
Benefits of Password Boss
- Secure Password Sharing
- Multi-Device Access
- Built-In Dark Web Feature
- AES-256 and PBKDF2 Security
- VAR / Reseller Program
A Perfect Fit in your MSP Service Portfolio
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