With the recent news that LinkedIn, eHarmony and possibly Last.fm have been hacked releasing usernames and passwords on the Internet, therefore the need to beef up your password security is possibly greater than ever. This is the situation I found myself in and here are a few thoughts of my experience with a possible solution in regards to a clever piece of free software known as LastPass, available for desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.
One of the main issues of using passwords is first trying to keep each and every one unique. This becomes extremely complicated if you use multiple websites including social networks (Facebook, Twitter etc), online shops (Amazon, HMV, Game etc), Online Banking, Messaging tools (Skype etc) and discussion forums.
Many sites will advise you never write down these passwords, requiring you to remember them. Certainly not an easy task and actually encourages you to use terms within your passwords that are familiar – ironically something that is ill advised.
So where does this leave us? Well in a bit of a mess, unless you use a software solution such as LastPass…
With LastPass not only will it generate complicated passwords for you, but it will also store them in what they term a ‘vault’. This allows you to store the passwords for numerous websites securely with one single ‘master password’. This leaves you with only one password to remember, which unlocks the rest as and when you require them to gain access to websites and software that requires a password. This gives all of the sites you use an extremely difficult password to guess as it won’t relate to anything in your life that you may have in the past referred to as a reminder.
Generated passwords can look like this ‘h1Zylr0qNVSR3DMG’, which no one would expect you to remember – however LastPass does this for you. These can of course be retrieved by using your ‘master password’ as mentioned earlier. The software also includes add-ons for browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and others – so the form data for usernames and passwords can be entered automatically without having to refer to your ‘vault’.
For mobile devices, LastPass apps are available so you can retrieve your passwords there as well by simply copying and pasting the details. Mobile access requires a premium account, which only works out to be about £8 per year and in my opinion worth every penny.
If a site you use is subsequently hacked with details leaked online, it is just a matter of changing your password with another generated alternative resulting in no real damage done. This is due to the fact you had already in place a random generated password that isn’t associated with any other websites you use.
LastPass does include some odd quirks, such as creating generated passwords and entering them into the wrong boxes – especially when changing a password. The Vault can be filled with all of your current passwords, which can look a mess at first as you spend time organising it into far clearer sections of your choosing. All in all though, LastPass is an ideal solution and offers peace of mind for no cost or at most £8 annually. Surely worth consideration.