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Password Vault: A Complete Guide

The use of many credentials to access various services often causes people to opt for weak passwords or the reuse of passwords, making loopholes for the action of malicious agents. 

Moreover, the explosion in the number of connected devices due to technologies such as IoT, Big Data, and 5G generates new vulnerabilities to IT structures, making the risks even greater.

However, memorizing complex passwords can be a big challenge if you do not have a solution that allows you to gather them in the same space, such as a password vault.

In this article, we will explain the concept of password vault, its importance, benefits, and vulnerabilities, among other aspects. To facilitate your reading, we divided our text into the following topics: 

  • Password Vault: What Is It?
  • How Important Is a Password Vault?
  • Benefits of a Password Vault
  • How Does a Password Vault Work?
  • Does My Company Need a Password Vault?
  • Is the Solution (Deployment and Use) Complicated?
  • Password Vault Vulnerabilities
  • Types of Password Vaults for Companies
  • Can Password Vaults Be Broken Into?
  • Password Loss
  • SSO x Password Vaults
  • FAQ About Passwords
  • Curiosities About Passwords
  • Difference Between a Password Vault and PAM
  • Learn More About Cybersecurity
  • Cybersecurity Best Practices
  • About senhasegura
  • Conclusion

Follow our text to the end!

Password Vault: What Is It?

Also known as a password locker and password manager, a password vault consists of software used to keep multiple passwords secure. For this, the passwords are encrypted and stored so that a master password must be used to access them.

The use of this tool to store passwords eliminates the need to use weak and easy-to-remember passwords, providing more security for users. 

How Important Is a Password Vault?

At some point, you must have forgotten a password and resorted to a reminder. According to a study on the subject commissioned by NordPass, this happens because, in general, people need to memorize about 100 passwords to access websites and services. 

Also, according to this research, the number of passwords each person uses had an increase related to the Covid-19 pandemic, since many sought new forms of entertainment and online services.

To be more precise, this number has increased 25% between 2019 and 2020, while each person had to deal with an average number of 70 to 80 passwords before that. 

Therefore, a password manager works as an efficient solution to control all the passwords we use in our daily lives.

Through this tool, one can avoid the use of weak passwords or reuse of passwords, which are very common practices due to the ease of memorization and are extremely risky, especially for organizations, since privileged access — the target of many cybercriminals — allows hacking into corporate networks and accessing many resources.

With a password vault, it becomes easier to manage complex passwords, which are unlikely to be discovered or deciphered. That is, the password vault is a fundamental tool to provide security to companies.

Benefits of a Password Vault

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, 53% of people try to memorize passwords. This same research indicates that 51% of the population uses the same passwords in personal and professional accounts, further compromising digital security.

In addition, Digital Guardian reveals that, unlike what can be imagined, younger people are not the most informed when it comes to technology: 76% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 tend to reuse a password.

Another study, this time by Avast, shows that 46% of participants would be “very worried” about the vulnerability of their passwords in the face of cyberattacks, against 44% who would remain “a little worried”.

In this sense, it is extremely important to educate users about the importance of keeping their passwords secure, and the only method that allows them to remember dozens is through a manager.

This tool is useful for gathering passwords in a single place, where they are filled automatically, without having to memorize them.

Password vaults are also able to create trustworthy passwords and alert the user if any cybercriminals take action and compromise credentials, even before this causes any damage.

And best of all, this investment has an excellent cost-benefit ratio, since its price is quite affordable.

Check out the main advantages of a password vault below:

Password Vaults Can Generate Secure Passwords

In addition to storing a large number of passwords, many of these managers have the capability of generating complex passwords, which can be used to provide security to organizations.

No Need to Store Passwords

This capability eliminates the need to store multiple passwords, as all of them are stored in the vault. Just remember a single strong password to access them.

Random Passwords

Another advantage of a password manager is to randomly generate passwords, which helps to protect credentials against abuse and violations.

Password Change

When a password is compromised, it needs to be reset. With the password vault, this process is easy.

Multi-factor Authentication

Some password vaults use Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) to log in. Thus, if the user forgets a password, they will be able to access the vault through other procedures, such as biometrics.

Phishing Attempt Alerts

There are also password vaults that alert about phishing attempts. In this way, people can avoid downloading fake email attachments or clicking on malicious links.

Password Synchronization

Some password vaults are capable of synchronizing credentials across different devices and operating systems. This feature makes it easy to log in.

Monitoring of Access to Sensitive Data

The use of password vaults in an organization allows tracking access to sensitive data, providing more security for shared information.

It Benefits Business Processes

In addition to the issue of security itself, a password vault benefits business processes in general due to its efficiency and accuracy.

How Does a Password Vault Work?

As you have seen, a password vault is a tool that makes it possible to manage, track, and share the passwords of a particular organization. 

In this system, accesses and passwords are mapped and employees are divided into groups capable of requesting access, which will be authorized or limited individually, based on the criteria defined by the company’s security policy.

Moreover, whenever access is authorized, it is monitored by the professionals responsible for information security, who can know exactly what password was created and accessed, by whom, when, and where.

In cases of emergency, it is also possible to create a temporary password with due explanation to superiors, whose use will be monitored at all times. Managers can then gain access to the password usage reports.

There are three types of password vaults: those that store passwords in the cloud, those that save them locally, and those that are in browsers. 

In the first case, passwords can be accessed from multiple devices, which requires caution and the use of secure devices and browsers. The second type refers to passwords saved on a computer, so it is less useful in the case of remote work. Browser-based password vaults are easy to use, you just need to answer the question that appears on the screen: if you want the browser to save your password.

In general, password vaults increase a company’s cybersecurity, and many of these managers record all actions performed with details that include access times, interactions with the system, and equipment used.

However, since most employees need permission to access systems and get their work done, it is recommended to take measures to minimize vulnerabilities and keep accounts secure. 

One of the recommended measures is the use of long and strong passwords, without reference to personal data, for all logins.

Does My Company Need a Password Vault?

Every day, we need to use dozens of passwords to access the most diverse tools. The big problem is that it is often impossible to memorize them, which makes many people reuse passwords or use weak passwords.

Now, imagine this situation in a corporate context: a large number of people reusing passwords or using passwords that are easy to crack, with access to all kinds of data and without any internal control. 

This can bring a great vulnerability in terms of information security, as they increase insider and external threats, as well as the risk of data theft and leaks.

Therefore, if you own a company and care about ensuring business continuity, we strongly recommend investing in a password vault. This feature makes it possible to implement internal controls and monitoring and automate processes, avoiding several risks.

Is the Solution (Deployment and Use) Complicated?

If you have never taken any security measures related to password and access control, a password manager may seem like a complex solution.

So, to make it easier, it can be a good strategy to start your deployment into a single department. In this way, it is possible to reproduce the process in an automated way in other sectors.

Thus, you will notice a password vault increases data security while saving time and financial resources.

Password Vault Vulnerabilities

A password vault presents two major vulnerabilities. The first is that, by centralizing all passwords in a single location, if the master password is compromised, the stored credentials will also be.

The second major vulnerability of a password manager is that it is a malware-vulnerable program. In practice, this means that if the master password is used on a computer infected by malware, the stored passwords may be compromised.

Types of Password Vaults for Companies

In a corporate password vault, security controls are integrated and used to prevent malicious agents from promoting cyberattacks by using the organization’s passwords.

For this, password access must obey the principle of least privilege, that is, employees must have access only to the passwords they need to perform their work.

Password managers use standards such as AES-265 to encrypt passwords. Moreover, they feature random password generators, enable automatic password reset, and allow the adoption of password-related security policies.

There are two types of password vaults. They are as follows:

Desktop-based

Desktop-based password managers allow you to store passwords on a device. The problem is that if this device is lost, all passwords stored on it will be too. 

Cloud-based

Cloud-based password vaults use this technology to store passwords. Thanks to this, they are saved and can be accessed from any device.

Can Password Vaults Be Broken Into?

A password manager is a secure means of storing credentials, but it is not a strategy immune to brute force attacks, keyloggers, and phishing, among others.

Also, as already mentioned in this text, the loss of the master password can lead to the compromise of passwords stored in the software.

What’s more: on a malware-affected device, a password vault can be easily hacked (and password managers that do not apply the multi-factor authentication become more vulnerable to the action of malicious agents). 

Password Loss

Depending on the type of password vault, it is possible to access it even if the user loses the master password, but depending on the chosen type, it may be necessary to have a backup, delete the vault, create a new vault, and protect it again.

Some password vaults allow access through an OTP and email account. Then, one needs to reset the master password. If this is not possible, one must delete the vault with all passwords included, and create a new one.

SSO x Password Vaults

A more secure solution than password vaults is Single Sign-on (SSO), which allows logging into multiple accounts through a set of credentials only once, allowing access to multiple systems.

Typically, SSO integrates an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution and provides security to companies by adopting protocols such as SAML or OAuth and technologies such as a digital certificate. 

SSO offers more security than password managers, as it decreases the number of logins and stored passwords and these passwords are not shared.

In practice, after logging in, SSO transfers tokens to the app and requests authentication. With this, it is possible to reduce the attack surface and cyber threats. 

Besides being more secure, SSO is easier to use than password managers and eliminates the need to store many passwords. 

FAQ About Passwords

Here are the frequently asked questions when it comes to the use of passwords:

What Makes a Password Good?

For a password to be trusted, firstly, it must be original. People are most likely to reuse the same passwords across all of their accounts, but this poses a huge risk, because if one credential is compromised, they all will be.

Moreover, opting for similar passwords does not solve the problem, as well as obvious and easy-to-decipher passwords, such as the 123456 sequence and other similar patterns. 

Another important recommendation is not to use personal information in a password, such as date of birth, name, and pet’s name.

Finally, a strong password should gather uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. 

How Many Passwords Should I Have?

As you have seen, using the same password across all accounts is a risky practice. Therefore, the ideal is to have a password for each situation, which makes it essential to use a password vault to memorize each one of them.

After all, if you use the same password on more than one account and fall victim to malicious attackers, the inconvenience and losses tend to be much greater. 

What Is the Ideal Size for a Password?

We strongly recommend replacing short passwords, from six to eight characters, with longer ones, with 12 or more characters. For this, you can use an entire sentence.

How Many Times Should I Change My Password?

Most people do not often create new passwords: according to Digital Guardian, only 31.3% of Internet users will create new passwords “once or twice a year.”

Nevertheless, the longer a password is u

What Are the Alternatives to Passwords?

Many Internet services use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to provide more security to users. In addition, smartphones allow you to use features such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning.

Curiosities About Passwords

Passwords are an extremely important asset for an organization, and as such, they must be protected. This is because inappropriate passwords increase the risk of data leaks and cyberattacks.

To give you a better idea of how these threats present themselves, we prepared a list with 9 curiosities about passwords. Check it out:

  • According to Microsoft, 99.9% of the risks associated with passwords could be avoided with the use of multi-factor authentication;
  • Credentials were the main type of data stolen in 2020 worldwide;
  • About 60% of violations are related to the inappropriate use of credentials;
  • In a study taken in 2020, more than 40% of respondents said their company was compromised due to passwords;
  • More than 40% of companies use sticky notes to remember passwords;
  • 82% of professionals confessed they reuse passwords and credentials;
  • It is believed that 60% of passwords related to more than one violation have been reused;
  • In 2020, about 25% of violations were related to the filling of credentials;
  • About 75% of workers reuse corporate passwords for their personal accounts.

Given these numbers, it is evident professionals have prioritized the ease of memorization to the detriment of digital security, giving rise to weak passwords.

To get a sense, according to Forbes, 59% of Americans use the name or date of birth of a family member in their passwords, 33% choose a pet’s name, and 22% include their own name, repeating a weak password approximately 14 times. 

However, you have already been introduced to the risks these behaviors pose. Follow our recommendation to avoid them and implement a password manager to protect your business as soon as possible.

Difference Between a Password Vault and PAM

A password vault is a software installed on a computer, tablet, or smartphone that allows storing all passwords securely, without the need to remember all of them.

Some types of password vaults can synchronize passwords on different devices, making it easy to log on, which can be done from any environment. Another capability of password managers is to create unique and random passwords, which provide great security for users. 

Privileged Access Management (PAM) consists of several information security technologies and strategies, which provide control not only over credential passwords, but also over privileged access in a digital environment. 

PAM allows one to prevent and reduce damage from hacker attacks and insider threats against privileged credentials using the concept of least privilege, which restricts permissions and access rights to the minimum necessary for the user to perform their tasks.

PAM solutions are used to manage passwords for:

  • Operating systems;
  • Equipment;
  • Network or endpoint servers;
  • Databases;
  • Internal apps;
  • Social networks; and
  • Internal application passwords, among others.

Learn More About Cybersecurity

One of the major risks associated with cybersecurity refers to the inability to identify a compromised privileged account. This is what a new report on the subject points out.

This shows it is necessary to adopt strategic measures in order to ensure the protection of privileged services and identities.

Moreover, the Vectra 2020 RSA Conference Edition of the Attacker Behavior Industry and Spotlight on Privilege Access Analytics reports provide important information on the topic of digital security. Check it out below:

  • The most commonly observed privileged access anomaly behavior is access to  unknown hosts, with 74% of all detections;
  • In the first half of 2019, 282 malicious agent behaviors were detected per 10,000 hosts. In the second half of the same year, this number fell to 225;
  • It is not common to see a large amount of TOR traffic in companies, as few people use it legitimately. In the industries assessed, TOR had an average of three detections per 10,000 hosts;
  • Financial and insurance organizations had the highest rate of recognition behaviors, with 32 out of every 10,000 hosts. On the other hand, government agencies had the lowest rate, with 93 out of every 10,000 hosts;
  • 47% of all insider access anomaly behavior detections targeted financial, insurance, and education organizations;
  • With 138 and 102 detections per 10,000, technology and education organizations, respectively, are the segments that most receive command and control behaviors, reaching approximately three times more than the other areas;
  • Small companies were more vulnerable to lateral movement attacks than medium and large-sized organizations, with 112 out of every 10,000 hosts.

Cybersecurity Best Practices

If the goal is to ensure the digital security of your company, it is extremely important to work on several fronts, ranging from investment in technology to the training of its employees. The following is what should be taken into account:

Enforce a Strong Password Policy

The use of weak and easy-to-decipher passwords is one of the aspects that most affect an organization’s cybersecurity. Therefore, it is essential to ensure your employees adopt strong passwords with secure use, storage, and sharing.

Use a Password Vault

Strong passwords tend to be more difficult to remember, especially as your employees won’t have to deal with a single password, but with multiple, which should not be repeated.

The good news – as we have seen throughout this article – is that the password vault allows one to store and manage all the passwords a person uses. For this, it only needs to memorize a single master password.

Another advantage of the password manager is that it allows the creation of random and unique passwords, which do not need to be memorized.

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

Another very efficient mechanism when it comes to digital security is multi-factor authentication (MFA), which requires each user to prove their identity in two different ways to access a given service.

This technology prevents the action of malicious attackers even if they gain access to the credentials.

Employee Training

There is no point in investing in cutting-edge technology if your employees are not trained to deal with cyber threats. 

In this sense, it is important to make your team aware of the risks related to hacking, phishing, and how to work securely from home.

Secure Email Gateway (SEG)

To protect your employees from phishing, it is also critical to invest in a secure email gateway (SEG), which monitors emails for threats and signals compromised accounts. 

Endpoint Solutions

Another important measure to ensure the security of your company is to install endpoint solutions on your employees’ devices.

This technology combines firewalls, anti-malware tools, and device management, protecting your IT network.

PAM

Controlling privileged users’ access and activities through a PAM tool is of utmost importance to keeping privileged accounts secure.

In this way, one can ensure that only the correct users access these accounts, for the time necessary to perform their functions.

This is especially important if we consider that privileged accounts are among the main targets of malicious attackers.

About senhasegura

senhasegura is part of the MT4 Tecnologia group, created in 2001, with a commitment to promote cybersecurity to its customers. 

Currently, the company is present in 54 countries, providing its customers with control of privileged actions and data in order to avoid the action of malicious users and data leaks. The following stand out among its goals:

  • To provide more efficiency and productivity to companies, avoiding interruptions due to expiration;
  • To perform automatic audits on the use of privileges;
  • To perform automatic audits of privileged changes to detect abuse;
  • To perform successful deployments;
  • To provide advanced PAM capabilities;
  • To reduce risks;
  • To bring companies into compliance with audit criteria and standards such as PCI DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO 27001, and HIPAA.

The senhasegura’s password vault is a solution that stores credentials such as passwords, SSH keys, and digital certificates by using means such as encryption and offering users the possibility of accessing multiple credentials with a single password.

Through it, one can access network resources using SSH and RDP protocols, in addition to recording the use for audits and compliance assessments. This technology makes it possible to analyze the actions of users in real time and generates alerts when detecting improper actions.

Its implementation reduces costs and risks, as well as facilitates the adoption of password usage policies and credential management.

PAM, in turn, allows controlling privileged access, preventing and mitigating problems arising from insider and external threats.

This solution encompasses several strategies, but its main capability is the application of the concept of least privilege, which allows users to have only the necessary access to perform their tasks. 

Conclusion

By reading this article, you saw that:

  • A password vault is a software program used to securely store multiple passwords;
  • Passwords are stored so that just a single master password is used to access them;
  • Many people use weak passwords or reuse passwords due to the ease of memorization. With a password manager, this is not necessary;
  • Investing in a password vault provides several advantages, such as: the generation of secure passwords, no need to memorize them, generation of random passwords, easy change process, and the use of multi-factor authentication;
  • Password vaults have two major vulnerabilities: one is the fact that all passwords are centralized in a single location, and the other one is because it is a program vulnerable to malware;
  • There are two types of password vaults: cloud-based and desktop-based;
  • Password vaults can be hacked;
  • In some cases, the loss of the master password requires the creation of a new password vault;
  • SSO offers more security than password vaults;
  • Privileged Access Management consists of several information security technologies and strategies.

If this article was helpful to you, share it with someone else who might also be interested in the topic.

About Version 2
Version 2 is one of the most dynamic IT companies in Asia. The company develops and distributes IT products for Internet and IP-based networks, including communication systems, Internet software, security, network, and media products. Through an extensive network of channels, point of sales, resellers, and partnership companies, Version 2 offers quality products and services which are highly acclaimed in the market. Its customers cover a wide spectrum which include Global 1000 enterprises, regional listed companies, public utilities, Government, a vast number of successful SMEs, and consumers in various Asian cities.

About Senhasegura
Senhasegura strive to ensure the sovereignty of companies over actions and privileged information. To this end, we work against data theft through traceability of administrator actions on networks, servers, databases and a multitude of devices. In addition, we pursue compliance with auditing requirements and the most demanding standards, including PCI DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO 27001 and HIPAA.

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