Ok, I am finally taking the plunge into becoming a regular blogger. After so many false starts, I now feel I am ready. It is not that I was not interested in blogging, but I often lost focus and could not keep up with a regular publishing schedule. With this blog I plan to write weekly about things that are of interest to me, possibly other educators, and regular people like you.
Today I want to share with you a browser plugin that I can’t live without, it is called LastPass. LastPass is a password manager that can autofill your login credentials for almost any site you access through a web browser. It works on Mac’s and PC’s, as well as mobile devices. I have it on my Macbook, my desktop PC, my Android phone, and my iPad. It currently manages over 150 of my login credentials for my various online accounts. Password managers have become a necessity for many people due to large number of passwords people have to remember.
How many times have you heard about credit card number or passwords being leaked by a service that you use (Adobe or VTech). If you are using the same username and password on multiple sites and your data was exposed, it is just a matter of time before your other services will be hacked. That is why it is important to have a difficult to guess, long password. Of course you will likely never remember it.
Once you store your information in LastPass, it is accessible by a single unique master password. The application then autofills your data into the appropriate fields and logs you into the site. The best part about this is that you can have long and difficult passwords that you no longer have to remember. That is why I let LastPass generate unique passwords for every site that I register for. The only password I have to remember, is the long unique password I use for LastPass.
You can also increase your security by adding 2-factor authentication. But, that is a topic I will leave for another blog post or you can read about it on CNet.
Another security feature is that you can generate one-time login passwords for LastPass that you can store in a safe location. It can be your backup just incase you ever forgot your password. However, as more of our lives become digital, it is becoming more important to leave access information when you pass away. You would want to leave access to you online photo or music collection to your kids. I am also reminded of the story of the woman who spent months trying to access the account of her deceased husband so that she could use their shared mobile device. If LastPass had been used he could have left a one-time password for her to access all their shared account information.
The best feature of LastPass is that it is free. They also have a premium service that I subscribe to. With the premium service all your devices are synchronized. The free version is the exact same but it does not synchronize between devices. For $12 a year, it is worth it.
If you are like me and can’t keep track of 100+ unique passwords, give LastPass or another password manager a try. You can also find out more about LastPass and the importance of long passwords from security expert, Steve Gibson at GRC (Security Now Podcast: LastPass and Password Haystacks).