Who wants to talk about password management? Anyone? Bueller?
How about this, who wants to keep their online accounts safe and not have to worry about remembering five gazillion passwords? Listen, I get that managing your passwords and keeping them safe is not a sexy topic of discussion, but the fact is, it’s necessary, kind of like talking about condoms with teens. Like the need for safety between the sheets, people need to think about using something reliable to keep themselves and their credentials safe online. I’m not here to comparison shop condoms for you, but I can tell you about LastPass, a tool that not only makes managing your passwords a breeze, it can also help you strengthen your passwords and reduce your online risk.
LastPass is a password management tool that securely stores your user IDs and passwords. Wow, that’s dry – I almost fell asleep writing that sentence.
Let’s try again; LastPass is like an unbreakable virtual vault that stores your hoard of online account user IDs and passwords, even the ones you wouldn’t want Grandma to know about. No one is getting into that vault but you because you wield the almighty master password and once you sign in, LastPass will grant you the power to sign into any of your sites without having to remember anything else. It’s glorious. I’m not going to lie, there is a bit of a learning curve with this tool and it may take a little effort to get all the info for your myriad accounts into LastPass, but it’s worth the effort. It’s best to settle in for an evening — apple pie cocktail in hand — and begin exploring LastPass and everything it can do for you.
I’m not going to get into the uber-techy details of LastPass because A) I don’t want to nod off, and B) if you care about AES 256-bit encryption then you probably already have your online security wrapped up and your box of Trojans safely tucked away in the nightstand. BUT, if you’re struggling to remember the 5936 passwords our lives require, or you are starting to feel like your go-to password of “password” is getting a bit weak (Seriously, if this is your password CHANGE IT NOW.), then get to know LastPass a little better.
It’s not all boring techy techiness, LastPass has some cool features.
- Because your master password is encrypted and decrypted locally on your device before syncing with LastPass, it never leaves your device, never travels over the network, and is never shared with LastPass. Even if some non-condom wearing bad guys got into the LastPass site or databases you’d still be okay because the strongly encrypted data is all they would find and without your master password they can’t do anything with it. Remember, your master ID and password are not stored in LastPass so the bad guys will be thwarted. Even if the condom-less evildoers (or government agency) asks nicely for your data in LastPass, they can’t do anything without your master password, which only you know. <<< Don’t share passwords. Some things are single-use or single-person only.
- It’s cheap. The free version of LastPass is awesome, but you can only use it in a web browser. To get the most out of this service, you’ll want to buy the premium app for $12.00 USD/year. This centralizes all your passwords and makes your info portable, and you get to manage your passwords from your mobile device. That’s a buck a month. Your security is worth a buck a month.
- If there was a way to make auto-generation of long random passwords sexy for you, I would do it, but let’s stick to the cold, hard (there it is) facts. LastPass supports auto-generation of passwords, auto-fill of various forms, and will auto-login to sites. When you login to a new site for the first time or manually input a user ID and password, LastPass offers to save the credentials. If you agree, the user ID and password for that site are saved in LastPass and available for auto-login on subsequent visits to the site.
- LastPass provides a security rating for your various passwords that shows weaknesses. You can take the security challenge and put your passwords to the test to see which ones need attention. When you find a password that needs to be stronger, use the auto-generate function to beef it up.
- LastPass also offers a Secure Notes feature that allows you to store private information like bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, passport numbers, combinations to safes, etc. Like all of the other information stored in LastPass, your notes are encrypted and only available to you.
For more information on how to set up a LastPass account for yourself, check out the How To Geek Guide To Getting Started With LastPass
For more information on how to put on a condom, visit your nearest Planned Parenthood, or check out How To Use A Condom: 12 Steps