Password storage is one of the most important and often overlooked aspects of network security. A password manager basically is a software program that enables users to store, produce, and manage their password for online applications, mail servers, and other services within their own computers. Password managers act as logins for various websites and allow users to gain access only when they know the password. They come in many forms and each version has its own features.
Passwords management apps can be installed directly to your desktop or laptop. They can be web-based, downloaded to your computer, or offline (on a USB stick). Some password storage programs are web-based, where you manage your secure password storage by maintaining a database of all current password sessions. Others are designed to work as log ins within your email client or browser.
There are several ways in which password storage systems to perform their function. The most basic form of password storage is storing salts. These salts are combinations of alphabets that are used as key values (where each alphabet is replaced with a digit). One example of a salt is ‘123456’.
Many password storage systems also use what is called an encryption scheme. Encryption is the process of transforming a message into an abstract form that cannot be deciphered by anyone but the person who sent the message in the first place. An encryption scheme is used to ensure that if someone tries to intercept your login credentials or copy any files off your computer, they will not be able to read the message itself. Most common forms of encryption used for secure password storage are Diffie-HMAC and Kerckhoffs.
Password cracking is the term used to refer to the process of trying to guess or crack the passwords of websites. It can be done with a brute force approach, where an attacker is simply trying to find all the possible combinations of password inputs (eg. ‘123456’ + ‘asdfgh’) using as many tools as possible. This method is often used in phishing scams, or by cyber criminals who wish to obtain login information for websites that they may not legitimately own. A well developed password cracking program can crack passwords in a matter of minutes.
Password cloud storage is a solution that streamlines the password cracking process. Password cloud storage is the storage of passwords and other security keys in the cloud or on a password manager server. The advantage of password cloud storage is that an entire database can be accessed across the internet. Because an entire database is always available, there is no need for password recovery or remembering multiple passwords.
Password manager software programs for cloud storage can come with both a free and a paid version. A free version typically limits the number of saved passwords to a set number of stored buckets, while a paid service allows unlimited numbers of buckets and also provides additional security features such as making backups of the data and creating password encryption layers. A free version also usually limits the types of data that a user can password store. Most paid services, however, provide unrestricted password storage and allow users to manage and access their data from any modern-day computer.
Password management applications, whether in the form of software programs or cloud storage services, are useful for managing and storing login info, user names and passwords. Users can avoid certain types of password misuse, such as forgetting the original password or giving out or sharing incorrect passwords. Furthermore, users can also avoid leaking out their login info to hackers through public sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. When a user decides to download password manager software, he should be aware of its disadvantages. For instance, he should not use free versions that have limited storage capacity and security or that do not provide additional security.