What Happens If My Password Manager Gets Hacked?

If you use a password manager, you may be worried about reports of these systems being hacked. If you don’t use one, such reports may make you leery of doing so. While no system can guarantee 100% data security, experts agree that using a trustworthy password manager is the safest way to protect access to your online accounts.


How do password manager hacks happen?

Your password manager could be hacked in a few different ways. All software is susceptible to bugs that hackers could exploit, and all humans can be vulnerable to social engineering tactics. Password manager vendors are no different. Hackers can execute malware and social engineering attacks against password management providers and gain access to data. Another important vulnerability, however, is in how individuals use password managers and how they create and store their master passwords.


Are password managers safe to use?

You might be wondering, “If my password manager is hacked, will all my information end up on the dark web?” Fortunately, this outcome is incredibly unlikely. One of the main reasons password managers are safer than other password storage methods is that these companies store users’ passwords in encrypted form within a secure vault. Even if hackers manage to access the vault, the encryption vendors use is exceptionally strong, making it incredibly difficult for criminals to decrypt stored passwords before the provider is able to learn of the breach and take counter measures to prevent password exposure.


How can I protect my password manager account?

Follow the tips below to keep all your passwords as secure as possible.

Use a strong, unique master password.

The first line of defense for your password manager account should be a strong, unique master password that you don’t share with anyone else. Shoot for a phrase that’s easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. Use at least 14 characters, including a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. For added security, you may also wish to reset passwords for other sensitive sites like banks and credit cards.


Set up multifactor authentication.

While a strong, unique password is practically impossible to guess, it could still be stolen if your device becomes infected with malware. Setting up multifactor authentication (MFA) creates an additional layer of security, since login will require not only your password but also a single-use passcode that the vendor sends you with each login attempt. Password managers often don’t require users to set up MFA, but experts strongly advise consumers to enable this feature.


Log out of your password manager when you’re not using it.

If you stay logged into your password manager, especially on multiple devices, you create potential doorways for your hackers to access your account. They may do this remotely from another device or by stealing a device that’s logged in. Logging out after each usage helps keep your account as secure as possible.


Respond promptly to security notices.

Reliable password managers have extensive monitoring in place to alert them to potential security breaches. If they detect irregular activity, they will notify users immediately. Make sure to keep an eye out for communications from your provider, and follow all steps they recommend to keep your data secure. Pay attention to what your provider says about the nature of the breach, and if you learn that your master password has been compromised, change it immediately so hackers can’t use it to gain access to your other accounts. If the breach involves business accounts, be sure to follow your organization’s incident response plan.


While it can seem scary to keep all your passwords in one place, a reliable password manager is the most secure solution for keeping track of multiple complex passwords. Even if your provider is hacked, their sophisticated encryption and layers of security can help keep your private data private.

Pendello provides managed IT services for small and mid-sized businesses, including solutions for cybersecurity and threat management. To learn more about protecting your organization’s sensitive data, browse our blog.