I’ve been asked my several colleagues to start posting regularly about the tips, tools, and strategies that I use for my personal and work life. In this series I’ll (try) to weekly post about various digital texts and tools that I use, and hopefully help you out as well.
What is LastPass?
The first tool that I’d like to highlight is LastPass. LastPass is a tool that remembers all of your passwords, and automatically adds them when you come across a website that you need to log in to. This is an invaluable tool for those of you that have passwords written down on notepads and slips of paper all over your office. Lastpass is also helpful to help you keep your online content locked down and protected. It’s a bad habit (that I’m trying to break) to have one or two mater passwords that you use everyone. LastPass can automatically create and save a random password (that you don’t have to remember) for all of your sites.
LastPass is free, but they also offer a premium package for $12.00 per year. The premium package is important if you use your mobile device, or tablet often. I do. I need to be able to log in from any device, anywhere. The $12.00 per year is worth that luxury and peace-of-mind.
Using LastPass is simple. I install the extension on Chrome or Firefox. I also install LastPass on my Android phone/tablet, and my iPad/iPhone. Then, as I start up a new account, or log in to a new website, I use LastPass to create a password for me. I typically use a password that includes at least 12 characters. You can also use LastPass to create specific passwords that ask for certain rules (numbers, special characters). For websites that I already have a password for, I can use LastPass to change, and save the new password for the next time I’ll visit using the same process.
Why I Use & Pay for LastPass
There are several reasons why I love LastPass, and PAY for LastPass. The first is that the LastPass Chrome extension works offline. The second is that the Android app now automatically adds the password and logs me in on my phone/tablet. The third is the “Security Check” that is built in to the LastPass Vault. The security check will audit your passwords, and let you know what to change, bring you to the site and let you change the password using the methods I showed above.
This is a perfect time to talk about passwords, security, and protecting your digital identity. Please take the time to complete the following steps:
- Sign up for LastPass and install across all of your devices. There are alternatives to LastPass. I’ve tried them all, and come back to LastPass. I don’t regret it.
- To be even a bit more secure, I use Google Authenticator and two-factor authentication. I’ll cover this in a future post.
- Add all of your passwords to LastPass, and change all of your passwords to random passwords, save in LastPass.
- Regularly, at least once a year review your passwords, check up on the health of your online security.
Recent events like Heartbleed have highlighted the need to vigilant of our online security and password systems. One thing we should all understand is that the recent security and password leaks are not an uncommon occurrence. As we move forward, you should assume (IMHO) that at some point your passwords and account information WILL BE leaked or hacked online. To remain vigilant, we should be able to answer two questions:
- How transparent are the websites that I use to log in when security breaches happen? In the days after Heartbleed I immediately was contacted by LastPass, Tumblr, IFTTT, and Draft (among others). My question is now, what about all of my other online spaces? Especially places where I spend money…like my bank, Verizon, Bank of America, Amazon, TurboTax, etc.? As of this date, we haven’t heard anything yet. 🙁
- How can I quickly audit and change my passwords to make sure I am protected? My assumption is that using tools like LastPass, you can quickly and easily remedy these challenges.