Think about your online accounts for a minute. Most of us have online accounts for social media services, our bank, services such as PayPal, credit card accounts, and almost everyone with Internet access has an online account with Amazon. Now think about what would happen if someone with bad intentions found out your username and password for any (or all) of these! The thought is frightening, and sadly, most people are at severe risk of this happening because they don't properly manage passwords.
What exactly does it mean to manage your passwords properly? It means:
- Using complex passwords that contain a mixture of lower- and upper-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Using passwords that don't have any names or recognizable words in them.
- Using passwords that are long enough to be impossible to "guess" using brute force.
- Using a different password for every online account.
- Changing your password often.
Most people will read that list and conclude that it's simply too much trouble, but that would be a mistake. A serious mistake. Choosing to ignore the possibility of someone hacking your online accounts is probably one of the biggest mistakes most people make when it comes to computer security. Fortunately, you can make a change in your security habits easily using LastPass.
How LastPass Works
In the most basic sense, LastPass is a website. You create an account at www.lastpass.com and add your passwords to your LastPass vault. Once you've done that, the only password you have to remember is the password into your LastPass vault. (Your LastPass password is called your master password. I recommend you ensure your master password is strong and complex.)
Having to log into a website each time you need to get one of your passwords would be pretty frustrating, and fortuntely, you don't have to. LastPass offers an extension for almost all web browsers. Once you install the extension, LastPass makes it super easy to log into your online accounts. When you're prompted to log into a site, LastPass will check to see if there's an entry in your LastPass vault for that website. If there is, you can quickly log in without having to manually enter your username and password.
"The bottom line is this: LastPass makes it practically effortless to use unique, strong passwords for all the websites you visit."
For example, you can see below that I am able to quickly log into my account on a website by clicking the browser extension and then choosing "Show Matching Sites." When I do that, I'll see a small tile that I can click to instantly log me in.
Adding Accounts to LastPass
If you are logging into a site that isn't in LastPass or creating a new online account, LastPass makes it easy and fast to add the account to your LastPass vault. If you manually log into a site and LastPass finds a matching site in your vault with a different username and/or password than what you just entered, LastPass will offer to update the entry in your vault.
Generating Passwords with LastPass
As I said before, you should use strong passwords, but coming up with a strong password on your own isn't easy. I can't imagine that I could come up with a password like 1ejUB1!f31d2!#x9 too easily, and even if I could, chances are that I might end up with some kind of pattern in multiple passwords. Fortunately, LastPass makes it easy to generate passwords. If you're generating a password for a site that has special requirements, you can even configure LastPass so that it will create a password that complies with those requirements.
To generate a password, click on the LastPass extension and click on Generate Secure Password. (You can see the menu option in the screenshot above.) You can then configure the options you need for the password as shown below.
The really cool thing about this feature is that LastPass will auto-generate a strong password for you when you're signing up for new online accounts. Once you tell LastPass to use the password, it will prompt you to add the new account to your LastPass vault. The point is that LastPass is fully automated in adding new accounts and updating existing accounts.
The bottom line is this: LastPass makes it practically effortless to use unique, strong passwords for all the websites you visit.
You likely have the need to securely store information other than passwords. For example, you might want to save health information, credit card information, insurance information, or some other sensitive information. With LastPass Secure Notes, you can save this kind of information and more with the full confidence of secure encryption.
When you are adding a note, you can choose a generic note and type anything you want, but you can also choose from a list of note types for common notes. When you select a note type, LastPass will generate a form you can fill out that includes fields relevant to the note type you selected.
Another great feature in LastPass is the ability to easily fill out forms with personal information at the click of a button. To use this feature, create a form fill as shown below.
After doing that, when you want to fill out a form with your data, simply choose the option in the LastPass menu and your form will be filled out instantly for you.
As with passwords and notes, all your form data are encrypted and secure.
Most of us do a lot of online work on a mobile device. For that reason, LastPass offers apps on all mobile platforms. These apps make it easy to fill forms, generate passwords, enter passwords, and do everything else you can do with LastPass directly on your device.
Because all your LastPass data are stored in the cloud, if you update a password on your laptop, that change is immediately available on your mobile device and vice versa. LastPass mobile on your iPhone will even integrate into Safari so you can easily fill forms and passwords without even switching to another app. And by the way, LastPass supports fingerprint readers and Apple's Face ID.
Security and LastPass: Can you trust LastPass?
If you use LastPass as I've described above, you're going to be entering a LOT of sensitive information into your vault. Should you trust LastPass with all that information? Fortunately, you don't have to. All of your information is completely encrypted, so LastPass can't see any of it. Here's how that works.
When you create your LastPass account, you enter your email address and create a master password. On your local machine, the email address and master password are used to create a local security key. This local security key is used to encrypt all your data using extremely strong encryption (AES 256-bit encryption) before anything ever gets sent to LastPass. All the encryption and decryption of data happens at the device-level on your local device.
In addition to all of that, LastPass is seriously focused on security for your account. They make it very easy to enable multi-factor authentication so that even if someone were to get your master password, they still won't be able to access your LastPass account. Once you enable multi-factor authentication, you have to log in using your master password and you have to authenticate using either a code sent to your mobile device or using the LastPass authenticator (or another authenticator app) on your mobile device to grant access. The code LastPass provides for access is only good for 1.5 minutes.
Price for LastPass
LastPass has plenty of pricing levels to meet your needs. If you just need it for your personal use, the cost is $2 per month. If you want to use it for your entire family (up to 6 people), the cost is $4 per month. Other plans are available for teams and companies. LastPass also allows you to try it free for a limited time.
Online security is something that everyone should take seriously. If you're one of those people who stores passwords on sticky notes, keeps them stored in emails on your computer, keeps them in a document on your desktop, or saves sensitive information in similar ways, you should really make the move to LastPass. If you use a common password for everything, you should move to LastPass immediately and use it to generate secure and unique passwords for everything. Really. Right this very second.
LastPass is easy, reliable, inexpensive, secure, and accessible on just about any device. It's trusted by the most knowledgable computer experts. You owe it to yourself to at least check it out at www.lastpass.com.