In today’s world, we all have a lot of data stored online via our various accounts — whether that’s a Google account, online banking, or any other site. For many, though, security is nothing more than a password that’s easy to remember, but not all that secure.
Recently, two things happened that reminded me it was time to update my online passwords. First, Google’s accounts engine had a hiccup, which at first had me terrified that someone was trying to hack my account. Second, Cloudbleed. We’ve got a bit more information on that in another article, but the long story short is that tons of passwords were leaked. So, I finally decided it was time for me to beef up my security, and that’s when I signed up for LastPass.
What Is A Password Manager?
If you’re not aware, LastPass is a password manager, similar to the like of 1Password or Dashlane. What it does is securely store all of your various passwords in a “digital vault.” The goal is to put all of your login information under one roof, but at the same time helping you strengthen your passwords.
How Does It Make My Accounts More Secure?
Facing facts, many of us, myself included, are guilty of using the same basic password across dozens of online accounts. Slight variations here or there help out, but you need separate passwords to truly be secure. The problem with that, though, is our memory. Many of us don’t want to remember dozens upon dozens of different passwords.
With that in mind, LastPass can, and will automatically generate new, extremely secure passwords for any account you’d like that are almost impossible to hack. Then, when you need to log into an account, the service can automatically fill in the password field (on most devices) so you aren’t stuck filling in that super long set of letters, numbers, and symbols.
So, for example, these are a few randomly generated passwords from LastPass.
Pretty crazy right? These passwords are extremely secure, because it takes much longer for a computer to forcefully figure them out. For example, it would take a computer about a minute to figure out if your password was password, but it would take over 30,000 years* for it to crack any of the passwords above. Overkill? Maybe a little bit, but at the end of the day, that makes your entire online presence much more secure, all while you only have to remember one password ─ your master password.
*Obviously, there’s no way to get that number confirmed, so it’s just a rough estimate.
And If Something Goes Wrong…
Another big benefit to a service like LastPass is if something goes very wrong, not with your accounts, but with you. If you happen to get caught in an accident or any other terrible thing, your friends and family might run into a lot of problems trying to take care of things for you if they can’t see your passwords.
That’s why LastPass offers “Emergency Access.” This feature allows you to share your entire password library with a trusted friend or family member that you’ve picked, and only allows them to see that data after a specific period of time has passed that you set up. It’s kind of a worst case scenario type of feature, but sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.
Password Managers You Should Try
By and large, most password managers are the same. My personal preference is LastPass, but there are also plenty of other fantastic options. I’ve listed a handful below. All three of these also offer mobile apps for logging into your accounts on the go.
Long story short, if you’re not using a password manager and you genuinely care about your online security, you should try one. They’re easy, free, and work well, so what’s your excuse for not trying it?