(Note: this is an encore presentation of one of my posts from last December–especially timely in light of the news of hackers continuing to steal insecure passwords.)
A university professor told me he has an easy way to remember his online passwords. He uses the same one everywhere. I admit I was a little surprised. He’s got a PhD and runs an institute. If you use more than one password—and I hope you do—are they written on scraps of paper that you stick in a book? Or do you rely upon Google to protect you and hope no one steals your laptop.
This is serious stuff. InfoSecIsland recently posted a great piece titled the Top Ten Password Cracking Methods. How many are you susceptible to?
There are a number of companies that offer software to protect you, including KeyPass, StickyPassword, and Kaspersky. But the two leaders in the password space are Roboform and LastPass. Both require only one master password, encrypt passwords, provide secure password generators, and fill in forms.
Roboform is free as a download that allows users to save information for up to 10 accounts. Bet you have more than that, though, don’t you? Beyond ten, the cost is $29.95. Passwords are stored on an encrypted file on your hard drive. You’ll need to install on all of your machines or use a proprietary sync product. An enterprise version is available with a volume discount.
LastPass is a better solution for me. There’s a free version that allows unlimited accounts that I’ve been using for a year now. I’m very happy with it. It’s compatible with all mainstream browsers. LastPass saves your passwords into an encrypted file on their servers so it can be accessed from anywhere online. No need to install it on all of your machines. A mobile version with advanced features costs $12 per year. There’s an enterprise version, as well.
You need to memorize one master password to access your LastPass vault where all of your other login data and passwords are stored.
There are several different levels of available security. But it’s really about opening and closing the vault.
Here’s how easy it is to use:
- Generate a free, secure password using LastPass’s password generator tool or create a long, complex password yourself. Here are some guidelines from Microsoft.
- Change the password in one of your online accounts to this new password, then access the account.
- LastPass will ask you if you want to save the new login and password into your vault. Click yes.
- The next time you need to enter a password into this account, first click on the black LastPass icon on your toolbar. Then enter your LastPass Master Password.
- The account password will automatically populate. Click and open your account.
- Close your LastPass vault.
Password protection may become a thing of the past if technology that enables iris recognition is adopted for the consumer market. But don’t wait. You could be sorry if you do.
SCOTT PETERSON is co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC. We provide integrated Internet marketing, compliance solutions, training, and more to a wide range of organizations.
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