Why You Need a Password Manager (and which one to pick)?

I looked back at a post I did on March 12, 2011 called 11 Android Apps I can’t live without. Out of those 11, only 2 have survived the test of time: Evernote and LastPass (a cross platform password manager).

Why use a Password Manager?

You need a different password for every site you visit. You may want to read that sentence again. It is the truth. If you want to browse the web and buy things online safely, you must not have duplicate passwords. Not only do high profile sites like Target get hacked but how about lower profile sites with much less resources that you visit? In addition, it has been shown that passwords that humans come up with are much easier to crack than randomly generated ones.

Your brain has enough to do without cluttering it with creating and remembering passwords.

You will save time by using a password manager. The beauty of a password manager is once it learns your logins and passwords it fills them in for you.

What does a Password Manager do?

It remembers your logins and passwords. When you login to a site, the password manager will ask you whether or not you want it to remember your login and password. If you say yes, then it encrypts and stores them securely.

It requires you to remember only one password. You have one “Master Password” that you put in when you launch your browser. From there on out the password manager fills in your credentials for each site for you.

It generates more secure passwords. When you create a new password for a site or update an existing password, the password manager can generate a random combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to form a good password.

What is the downside?

You have to be “all in”. I don’t know my passwords for Amazon or Netflix or other sites I visit. The passwords are random and I simply don’t remember them. In other words, I am totally relying on my password manager to work (and it always does). I know this is scary but I am more scared of the potential of being hacked. But do your due diligence and proceed at your own risk.

Getting started takes some work.

It cost a bit of money. There are free alternatives out there but I strongly recommend LastPass. The premium version costs $12 / year.

Why choose LastPass?

Steve Gibson uses and recommends it. I am not a security expert but I trust Steve Gibson. He has been around a long time and is the host of Security Now.

It runs on virtually everything. I have a Windows laptop, an Android phone, and an iPad. It runs on all those devices and much more.

They are continually improving it. Case in point: the most recent Android App update now includes the ability to fill in logins and passwords for Apps. Sweet.

It just works. I’ve been using it for over three years and I can’t recall a time it failed.

What are some tips?

Create a really good Master Password. It should contain upper and lower cases letters, symbols, and number AND be pretty long (12 or more characters). Also, you may want to consider making it fairly easy to type (on all your devices).

Don’t get too carried away when generating your passwords. On the rare occasion you have to type a password you don’t want to make it nearly impossible. I would suggest 9 characters for the Password Length. Also, you may want to choose the option Avoid Ambiguous Characters (located under Advance Options).

Why not give it a go?

By now I hope I’ve convinced at least a few of you to try LastPass. To get started just visit LastPass.com. They have great videos that will walk you through the process. Take a deep breath, consider it, and give it a go (if you dare).

What do you think?

Please leave a comment if you try it, decide not to, or prefer a different password manager.

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