Tech Guide

A password manager can help you share less info with tech giants such as Facebook — here's how to use one

Key Points
  • Single sign-in services from tech giants such as Google and Facebook make it easy to sign in to a lot of different sites without remembering different usernames and passwords for each one.
  • But if you use these services, the tech giants behind them may be collecting information you didn't realize you were sharing with them.
  • We'll explain how to use a password manager such as 1Password instead.
Businesswoman and data storage system
d3sign | Moment | Getty

Somewhere along the line many of us have grown accustomed to using tools from Facebook, Google, Amazon and other big companies to log in to websites and apps, instead of creating new usernames and passwords for each one.

For instance, Facebook's version looks like this:

Stop tapping Facebook or Amazon on these screens.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

But doing this can give these tech giants access to a lot of information about what you're doing — even if you're not using their services directly.

For instance, Facebook says it can collect your IP address (which can be used to figure out your location), browser and operating system information, and data on the app you're using, all so it can better target ads and stories to you when you use Facebook. The ability to collect so much information is one reason why it sometimes seems that Facebook ads are "following" you.

You can regain some control over this information by creating a new account for every site and app. But that means you'd have to remember which username and password you used for each service.

A password manager solves that problem.

Think of it like this: a password manager app is like a "vault" with all of your passwords and logins for every site and app you visit. It's locked with a single key — the only one you need — and when you open that vault, you see all of the passwords and log-ins for all of your accounts.

There are a lot of options to pick from, but I'll walk you through my favorite.

Install a password manager

My favorite password manager is called 1Password. There are lots of competitors, including mSecure, Valt, Dashlane Password, LastPass and more, but 1Password has always worked well enough that I haven't found a reason to leave it.

1Password costs $2.99 per month for a single-user account, or $4.99 per month for a family plan that includes support for five users. It also has a free 30-day trial. It works on iPhone, Android, Windows and Mac. There are also tools for web browsers that will automatically fill in your password when you visit a website that's saved in your 1Password vault.

Here's how to install it:

If you're on the web, install the 1Password plug-in for Chrome or download the Mac/PC apps to easily access all of your passwords, including an auto-fill option, when you're on your computer, too.

Now, start using it to sign in to new sites

Create a new login with 1Password
Todd Haselton | CNBC

One example of an app that uses single sign-on options is The Washington Post. You can log in with an Amazon account, a Facebook account or a regular Washington Post login.

Previously you might have just used your Facebook account to log in.

But instead, you can create a new log-in from scratch, and store it in 1Password so you never have to remember the password.

First, create a new login and enter it in 1Password:

  • Tap "Categories" at the bottom of the 1Password app.
  • Tap the "+" button on the top right of the app.
  • Select "Login"
  • Create a name for your login (or select from a list of pre-defined ones). In this case, type in "Washington Post."
  • Enter the username or email address you use to login with.
  • Tap "Generate" new password.

This is a really great function of password managers: 1Password will automatically generate a strong password for your account. You get to set the length, but the default is 24 characters long, which is pretty good. And you don't need to remember this secure (but long) password, the manager does it for you.

Use a password manager and a unique password for every app.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Copy the password you just created in 1Password:

  • Open 1Password on your phone
  • Enter your password
  • Select "Categories" at the bottom of the app.
  • Select "Logins"
  • Choose Washington Post
  • Tap the password box and select "copy"

Now put it in the Washington Post app:

Log in with each app, not the Facebook button to log-in.
Todd Haselton | CNBC
  • Open Washington Post on your phone.
  • Select the 'Sign in with your e-mail' option instead of using Amazon or Facebook.
  • Enter your login info that you just created in 1Password.

Now you can follow these steps for all of your accounts including Google, Snapchat, your bank, billing accounts and more.

This isn't as easy as tapping a button and logging into everything with a Google or Facebook account. But it restricts the amount of information that these tech giants can collect about you, without forcing you to remember a bunch of different passwords.