Ever heard the phrase, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?”
The same goes for a financial portfolio: It’s only as safe as the password that protects it.
But what’s protecting the password?
Hacked credentials (i.e., usernames and passwords) is the most common cause of malicious online identity attacks, accounting for 61% of breaches. In fact, 20% of people have had their identities hacked, passwords compromised, or sensitive information breached because of duplicate and outdated passwords, according to HostingTribunal.
That’s why keeping your loved one’s passwords safe is actually almost more important than the security and complexity of the passwords themselves.
That’s where a password manager can help.
What is a password manager?
A password manager is software that allows the user to generate, store and manage credentials in one central and secure location online.
It helps the user create and store unique complex passwords for each account, and then easily retrieve these credentials when the time comes to access the account.
Why should older adults use password managers?
Password managers make your loved one’s day-to-day interactions with technology easier and more secure for numerous reasons. Namely, older adults are vulnerable to scammers, more likely to forget their passwords or store them in unsafe locations (e.g., on their computer desktop or in a paper notebook). Also, online accounts should be included in estate planning, but many family members find themselves “locked out” of important accounts after their loved one passes, with no access to the credentials—especially if the death is unexpected.
A password manager corrals all your loved one’s online account credentials and documents into one secure place, with only a single password to remember. Most password managers allow you to share credentials with other people to ensure nothing is ever lost “forever.” With all passwords stored in a secure central location, your loved one can ensure the correct people will have the details they need to access the accounts necessary to settle the estate and carry out final wishes.
Most password managers allow you to share your credentials with other people to ensure that nothing is ever lost ‘forever.’ Your loved one can ensure the correct people will have the details they need to access the accounts necessary to settle the estate.
With many password managers, you can not only store, change and access passwords in these apps but also notes about information such as:
- Financial account details
- Locations of valuables and critical papers
- Important contacts
- Important logins or security codes that aren’t website logins (computer passwords, phone PIN, etc.)
- Instructions in case of death
How can I be sure they’ll actually use it?
This is a legitimate question. So much so that a group of scientists from George Washington University teamed up to study it. They surveyed a group of adults 60 years and older to understand why older adults adopt password managers, and why they don’t.
They found that older adults who use password managers were satisfied with their experiences overall and even felt confident using multiple features like the password generator and auto-fill.
“Once older adults did adopt a password manager, they were more positive about their experience compared to their younger counterparts,” explains Adam J. Aviv, lead researcher and associate professor of computer science at George Washington University. “So advocacy and encouragement, particularly from family and close friends, can have a big impact.”
So, it seems once older adults get over the hurdle of getting set up and learning how to use the software, they love it and are quite adept at using it.
That’s why it’s important for you as the caregiver to help your loved one get a password manager set up and help them get acquainted with using it properly. The payoff will be tremendous for all parties involved.
Best password managers for older adults
SeniorsMatters did our own research to find a handful of our favorite password managers for older adults. We looked for user-friendly, cost-effective and robust products that were both software managers and also allowed for document storage. Below is a summary of the top three products we found.
One of the most trusted password managers on the market. While no free version is offered, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial. The service costs $35.88 ($4.99/month) a year. It has a simple interface and optional two-factor authentication if you’d like the extra security. A family plan is available if you would like to share passwords and credit card information.
- Password generation, storage and sharing
- Automatically fill forms
- Autofill payment details
- Save important documents like insurance and passports for safekeeping
- Syncs across all devices
- Choose which logins to share, which ones not to
- Store more than just passwords
- Receive alerts about password breaches and security issues
- Organize items using tags and categories
- Use 1Password as an authenticator
- Recover accounts for other family members
- Expert email support
Bitwarden is one of the most robust free password manager apps in the market. The free version allows you to sync all your passwords across all your devices. Both individual and family plans are available, and the family plans include a free two-person plan. You can upgrade to a six-person plan for $3.33/month.
- Unlimited password storage
- Usage on unlimited devices
- Password generator
Best for estate planning and for adults with memory impairment
Easeenet takes password management a step further. It’s both a password manager and a legacy-planning website that lets you securely store credentials and also upload and store estate documents and other important data, and then share all this with chosen loved ones. Easeenet doesn’t offer a password generator or individual password sharing and has a 1 GB storage limit on document uploads.
- Online journal for your thoughts, notes, etc.
- Dashboard that allows your loved one to organize their favorite websites into easy-to-see-and-use folders
- Legacy contact – The legacy contact has access to your loved one’s digital estate after they pass
Your loved one’s digital security is precious and precarious all at the same time. Be sure to protect it as best you can with a password manager.