Technology Pro Tip: Sharing Passwords? Do So Securely

Copying and pasting passwords in chat windows is a bad idea—but it seems like everyone does it. Using password managers or single-sign-on platforms could help cut down on the insecure copying.

Because cloud-based apps have grown like weeds—from SEO tools, to social media tools, to automation apps, and even data analytics tools—associations are dealing with a lot more passwords nowadays compared to even a few years ago. The truth is, not everything necessarily needs a unique account for each user.

Some organizations might find themselves sharing passwords among a small group of people. And while there are protocols employees can use to keep information like social media logins safe, sometimes you just need to share a password.

How do you do that without leaving that password hanging out in the open?

The Strategy

A little bit of software might help on this front. Password management platforms like LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password, and the open-source KeePass, can help a group of people share passwords, by making the passwords visible to those users.

1Password recently took things a step further with a feature it calls item sharing. This technique makes it possible to share basic logins, such as Wi-Fi passwords, without having to copy and paste the code. The link works even if the user doesn’t own 1Password, and can be set to expire. The Verge compares the approach to the sharing features available in a common tool in many workplaces—Google Drive.

If you don’t want to invest in a tool like 1Password, another approach that might come in handy is confidential email, a service offered through Gmail. The tool allows users to send a message, give that message an expiration date, and even require the use of an SMS passcode to access the message. It could come in handy in cases where info-sharing is necessary, but infrequent.

Why Is It Effective?

There’s a significant security benefit to not sharing passwords in the open, even through tools like Slack. Among other things, it prevents security breaches and encourages practices that limit access to organizational tools.

And on top of all that, password managers would likely put your security ahead of many other workplaces—according to a SurveyMonkey study reported by TechRadar, just 12 percent of knowledge workers say they use password managers, and 22 percent say they reuse passwords.

A password manager could allow you to vary those passwords, so when those rare times emerge where you do have to share a password, it’s complex, hard to remember, and only works in one place.

What’s the Potential?

Of course, if you really want to get fancy, a stretch upgrade for your organization might look like a single-sign-on tool, which can effectively put the login for a particular service behind a single-sign-on platform, such as Okta or Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, making it so important logins are available to any user who needs them with a click of a button.

That way, you’re not sharing passwords, but everyone who needs to can access the necessary tools.


(anyaberkut/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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