Online merchants and secure websites aren’t doing a very good job of keeping your personal information safe. Not a week goes by without news about a major online retailer being hacked. To make matters worse, even those websites that use decent security practices may have been compromised by the recently discovered Heartbleed bug. If the bad guys got your password, you’re in trouble. But if you used that same password at other sites, then you’re really in trouble. The only safe thing to do is to use a different strong password on every site, and the only practical way to do that is with a password manager.
If you aren’t using a password manager, it’s time to start using one now. This is important stuff, well worthy of major procrastination because setting up a password manager involves a considerable amount of time and planning. If you are starting from scratch, chances are good that you are using your browser’s built-in password management feature. There are a variety of password managers but we recommend LastPass and will help walk you through the process. LastPass will import those passwords, delete them from the browser, and turn off the browser’s password management. LastPass goes for a clean sweep, importing from all major browsers.
Beyond The Master Password
Most password managers support authentication using a master password. Since it’s protecting all of your other passwords, that one password needs to be really strong. But if that’s the only protection for your data, a crook who manages to steal your master password can access all of your data. The best password managers offer two-factor authentication.
LastPass 3.0 Premium can be configured for fingerprint-based authentication. LastPass supports authentication via the Google Authenticator mobile app.
Password Capture and Replay
Most, but not all, password managers integrate with the browser to capture login credentials as you enter them and replay those credentials when you revisit the site. LastPass goes a step beyond, actively detecting and managing password change events and capturing credentials as you sign up for a new service.
Quite a few password managers let you log in to your password storehouse from any browser, so you can look up credentials even when using someone else’s computer. Among these are Norton Identity Safe, RoboForm Everywhere 7, and Keeper 5.0; LastPass and Dashlane also offer this feature. F-Secure, by contrast, doesn’t allow any online access, considering it a potential security risk.
Form Filling and Personal Data
Given that most password managers already have the ability to fill your username and password into a login form, it’s not surprising that many also serve as form fillers for personal data. LastPass will cleverly offer to capture what you’ve entered if it sees that you are filling a form manually.
LastPass can store various types of ID data such as passports and driver’s licenses.
The free edition of LastPass has almost everything found in the premium; support for mobile devices is the big exception. LastPass Premium costs only a dollar a month. That’s not a lot, considering what LastPass is protecting.
Virtually every password manager will report the strength of your master password. And virtually every product will generate strong, random passwords for you on demand.
LastPass takes this concept a step further by offering a security report listing all of your passwords and rating the strength of each. They also report on duplicates—passwords you’ve used on more than one site. And they make it easy to upgrade all your passwords to improve security.