The Web can require a ballooning number of passwords, which can tempt people to use weak ones or to engage in less-than-secure practices, such as writing them down.
Password management programs can help. Typically, such programs let users enter a single master password. After a user name and password is entered into a Web site once, the program automatically inserts such credentials on subsequent visits.
One program, LastPass, from a company of the same name, is easy to set up and use and is compatible with all major computer operating systems as well as Apple’s iPad. It’s also free, although a paid version (just $1 a month) offers additional benefits, including compatibility with most smartphones and a few strong multifactor authentication options.
Like a few competing products, LastPass stores passwords and other sensitive information in the cloud, on its own remote servers. Users can, therefore, access their passwords on virtually any Internet-connected computer.
LastPass is easy to download and install. After visiting the company’s site, users can choose a version to download to their operating system. Setting up the program takes just a few minutes and requires the creation of a master password. A small LastPass icon appears in the computer’s Web browser. Through a drop-down menu, users create a new account, which involves inputting a user name (an e-mail address) and the master password. They then can access their online “vault,” which contains all of their sensitive data. A drop-down menu can also be used to access stored Web sites and to access several other features, including changing security settings.
photo by Ron Bennett from flickr