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Is it safe if users forgot the master passwords of the password managers?

Is it safe if users forgot the master passwords of the password managers?

Is it safe if users forgot the master passwords of the password managers?


Forgetting your password is not the most pleasant thing in the world. The process of resetting your password for an online account could be time-consuming, and when the emergency management agency of the state you're governing has put out a false missile alert, the consequences could be quite severe. (link: http://www.staradvertiser.com/2018/01/22/breaking-news/after-false-missile-alarm-ige-couldnt-log-on-to-twitter/)

That's what password managers are for. With them, you don't need to remember dozens of unique passwords. Instead, you only need one master password which gives you access to all your online accounts. But what happens if you forget your master password? Does this mean that your online identity will be compromised? And is there anything you can do to recover access to your accounts?

As long as your master password doesn't fall into the wrong hands, there's no immediate threat of someone hijacking the accounts you've saved with your password manager. Password manager vendors go to great lengths to ensure that without a master password, nobody, not even you, has access to your sensitive data. Some password managers also come with two-factor authentication meaning that logging in from a new device isn't as easy as simply typing in the master password. So, the security of your online accounts shouldn't be compromised in the event of a forgotten master password. But what is your course of action in case you forget your master password?

That depends on the password manager you're using. Good password managers don't store or transmit your master password in order to ensure that your private information remains private. Nevertheless, the mechanisms for handling the master password are different, and in some cases, recovery is simply not possible. Here's how LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, and Cyclonis Password Manager does it.

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LastPass

Recovering a LastPass account with a forgotten master password is possible under the right circumstances. Upon account creation, you are required to set a password hint which can be sent to your email when you click on the Forgot Password link. Additionally, there's an Account Recovery page which can let you create a One-Time Password and log in if you have used LastPass with the same device and browser in the past. And if you have changed your master password but don't remember the new one, you can revert the change. In this scenario, however, you will lose the data you've updated since the last master password change.

1Password

Recovering a forgotten master password in 1Password is technically possible, but not easy to do. If your master password isn't accepted on a Mac or a PC, but you use 1Password on an iOS device that is also equipped with TouchID or FaceID, you can unlock your vault on your mobile phone and retrieve the data. After that, you'll have to reset your desktop account and import it. If you're using 1Password for families or teams, another member of the group can also recover your account. If this doesn't work, you'll need to reset your account and start adding the data again.

Dashlane

Dashlane also doesn't give you the option of resetting a forgotten master password. Recovering an account is possible if you have a Dashlane Business account, and if you've set an emergency contact, you might also be able to regain access to the passwords and notes you've shared with them. In all other cases, your only course of action would be to reset your account and start over.

Cyclonis Password Manager

Resetting your Cyclonis Password Manager master password is not possible. During the account creation process, you are reminded several times that your master password is not stored or transmitted in any way and that you must be sure to remember it. In the case of a forgotten master password, you can do little more than sending an account termination request to Cyclonis' support team and start over.

This is how Cyclonis Password Manager, Dashlane, 1Password, and LastPass deal with forgotten master passwords. Other password managers might do things differently, but it's safe to say that none of the good ones will give you a quick reset link which is why it's important not to forget your master password.

Now, this may entice some fear and uncertainty among people who have never used a password manager in their lives. The inability to reset a master password could certainly prove problematic. You have to understand, however, that this is all done with your security and privacy in mind.

Think of your master password as a key to a vault that contains all your valuable possessions. In many ways, that's what it is. You wouldn't like to have a copy of that key easily accessible by someone else. Good password managers ensure that no one but you has access to the said key by not storing it anywhere.


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