App of the Week: LastPass

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By Igor Magun

With more and more of our personal information being stored online, strong passwords have become very important. That’s where password managers like LastPass come in.

LastPass allows you to store the passwords to all your online accounts in one secure location. The app can generate long, unique and randomized passwords for each website you use. All you need to remember is a single master password, which is used to encrypt the database. LastPass can also be used to store other sensitive information through secure notes, which receive the same protection.

That encrypted database is then sent over a secure connection to LastPass’ servers, so that you can access it from any device. The entire system is designed to be failsafe — even if a hacker were to breach LastPass’ servers and obtain your database, a computer would still need to spend months breaking in, depending on the strength of your master password. That gives you plenty of time to change your passwords in a worst-case scenario. LastPass can even change passwords automatically on some popular websites.

Further protection can be added through a two-factor authentication. This requires that you enter a second code to login to LastPass. The code can be generated by an app on your phone, a special USB key or a printout grid with letters and numbers on it. This ensures that even if a hacker knows your master password, they still need access to a physical item to login to your LastPass account.

But why use a password manager? Well, most of us are terrible at passwords. Chances are you use the same password for multiple services and it’s probably not a good one. The most popular password of 2015 was “123456,” according to software developer SplashData.

This makes it easy for a computer to guess your password. And if your login is leaked, reusing it on other websites puts those accounts at risk. A hacker can try out your email and password on other popular websites. And these leaks are commonplace — over 100 million leaked accounts were recorded in 2015 by PwnedList, a service which monitors sites hosting stolen credentials.

LastPass is available for free on the iOS App Store and Android’s Google Play. However, if you want to sync between multiple device types, you’ll have to pay $12/year for the premium subscription.

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