Whether you’re checking your bank account online, opening your webmail, logging in to your computer, or simply unlocking your smartphone, you’ll need to remember a password.
In the past, you could get away with remembering one password for every website or account. With the increase in online fraud and hacking, that’s asking for trouble.
It would be very easy for a dishonourable person to take control of your data, banking and online identity if he learnt that single password.
It’s long been highly recommended that you do not use passwords (or pin codes) that are birth dates, telephone numbers, names, or anything that could easily be guessed.
That’s why online security experts suggest that you create a unique password for every single account. This password should ideally comprise of at least eight characters, and include lower-case and upper-case characters, numerals and punctuation. Imagine having to remember complex passwords like that!
Unfortunately, writing down passwords or keeping them in unsecured text files is also a severe security risk – and you run the risk of being locked out of your accounts if you lose your password to your laptop of a file.
However, the solution that I use and recommend is LastPass (www.lastpass.com) because it has what I consider to be the best features, offers peace of mind, and is highly regarded by experts and reviewers.
In addition, the free version is quite suitable for the majority of users (although I personally think the premium subscription is well worth the money).
Here are some of LastPass’s key features:
You only need to remember one password – your master password – in order to access and use all your other usernames and passwords. This single password must be complex but that’s the “last pass” you’ll need to remember!
The software can generate and save a complex unique password for every new account, and you won’t need to remember it.
LastPass will automatically create a new account profile and login the next time you visit that website or app.
Your passwords are saved in a super secure “vault” that cannot be hacked. No one else will ever have access to your passwords because the service offers extremely secure, paranoid-level security.
You will be able to access your vault from any online computer because your vault is saved in the cloud.
LastPass can do an audit of your passwords to warn you if your password is easy to guess, is frequently used by other people, or if you use the same password on another website.
Because LastPass can generate and save a new unique password, it makes it extremely easy to save a better password on your accounts.
LastPass also offers multi-factor authentication (like a one-time pin, better known as OTP from your bank) as an extra layer of security.
The Premium service is very affordable (about R130 per year) and offers even more useful features, including mobile app access.
LastPass is perfect for personal use, but they also offer an enterprise version that manages employee passwords and helps you to protect company data.
Personally, LastPass has changed how I protect my online data so much that I have installed it on every family member’s computer – even my mother-in-law’s!