Sunday, March 28, 2010

LastPass - Password Manager

Featured: LastPass

Whenever I come across a service that offers to store ALL of my passwords for me online, I see several red flags pop up in my mind! For those that may not know, a password manager is a tool that stores you credentials (usernames and passwords) for as many sites as you like, and is locked by a single master password. That way, you only need to worry about remembering a single, (hopefully) very secure password. I know there are many other password managers out there, but LastPass is the first one I have felt comfortable using, and recommending.

If you would like to do your own research on their service, there are some great resources right there on their site about the security they use, or respected sites/organizations that endorse them.

If you have decided to take the plunge and give LastPass a try, they have great browser add-ons or extensions that will work with all major browsers. Once installed in your browser, its just life like usual, mostly. The program will wait for you to log into a website, and once the login process is completed it will ask if you want LastPass to remember that particular password. Very simple! If you are planning to migrate from a different password manager, LastPass has a great way to import the information so you don't have to recreate it.

Now, a word of caution. Even though I have great faith in LastPass security, I would still recommend keeping really important information, such as credentials to financial institutions, solely in your head, because bad things do happen (thanks Murphy!). If you are still not convinced, or would just like to see what LastPass can really do for you, read on.

Here is a list of my favorite features and ways to use lastpass:

Functionality Features:

  • Identities let you keep work, school, and personal credentials separate and organized.
  • Give specific instructions on what to do on certain pages. Actions include: Auto-Fill, Auto-Login, and reprompt for LastPass password.
  • Access to your stored credentials through the LastPass website; great for computers with which you have limited rights to.

Security Features:
  • Remember ONE secure password instead of several "simple" passwords.
  • Includes a tool to generate secure passwords for new or existing logins.
  • Save secure notes with each entry. Perfect for sites or information that you don't use often (for example, after providing a password a site may ask a security question, or for remembering things like a personal PIN when filing a FAFSA that only gets used once per year.)
  • Share credentials with friends and colleagues while keeping the actual passwords secret even to them by simply providing them with a link.
  • Customize security level based on what you would like. It can be so secure that for any action it will re-prompt you for the master password! There is also the other extreme, only asking for it once to login. I prefer a setting somewhere in the middle most of the time.

My LastPass Vault:
By logging into the LastPass website, you can view your stored information anywhere you have internet access. While in your LastPass vault, you can view any of your credentials, notes, or make any changes that you need to. If you are using it on a public computer, they even have a virtual (on screen) keyboard to provide a more secure way to log in (bypass potential key-loggers etc, that may be running on the system). Once logged in, you can simply select your desired page, and LastPass will take you to that page (in a new tab by default) and fill in your credentials AND even log you in automatically! No interaction needed!

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