Hacking and passwords have been in the news a lot lately. The New York Times had a good story today about hackers attacking the power grid, and of course there was the Evernote hacking over the weekend. If you’re not thinking about password security, you should be. LastPass is a good consumer option.
The basic idea is simple. Store all your passwords in a secure vault which recognizes login screens of the various sites you visit and automatically fills in all information. Presto!
The only password you need to remember is your master password to access your vault. You can make that one extremely secure and complicated because it’s the only one you need to remember to work the application. Once you’ve logged in, browse your sites as you normally would and let LastPass fill in everything to log in.
Why is this better than storing passwords in your browser? Because if someone hacks into your computer or steals it, all those passwords are easy to steal. LastPass doesn’t store anything on your machine. It’s all cloud-based.
Oh, did I mention it’s free?
One of my favorite features is password generation. Instead of having to create a secure password, when I set up a new account on a site or change a password on an existing site, LastPass will offer to generate a password for you. You have lots of control over the password. You can specify number of characters and what types of characters you want included.
What about mobile devices? Yes, there’s a LastPass app for most smartphones. One catch, though. To use LastPass on mobile devices, you need a Premium subscription, which will set you back $12 a month. Well worth it. With the mobile app, you still have access to your password vault wherever you are, and the app has a basic browser for quick visits to sites. It won’t work for everything (I never could get it to work on my library site, for example), but it’s good for most secure mobile browsing.
Here’s what accessing a saved site looks like on the iPhone app.
For consumers, LastPass is a good option, but I wouldn’t rely on it for commercial applications. But if you struggle to remember all your personal passwords, I’d highly recommend giving it a try.