Ever experienced losing a password? And having to waste time getting a reset code or link emailed to you? Or having to register yet again? We have .. many times!! Until we found a wonderful little tool recently.
I was quite amazed to discover a wonderful little tool called LastPass about 6 months ago and I’ve been delighted with how useful this gadget has been, and how well implemented it is. LastPass encrypts and saves your passwords safely in a database and will allow you to share them across computers.
How did we find LastPass? A number of us in the office have been using and enjoying Google’s great new browser, Chrome, for some time and enjoying its speed, robustness, and virus-proofness. However, we were concerned about the lack of security for saved passwords (also bad in Internet Explorer) which is one way a lot of people’s sites get hacked (virus steals passwords and sends to hackers etc etc). Firefox has a master password system which protects all your saved passwords with another password, so they can’t be stolen, and we wanted something similar.
Once you install LastPass, it asks you to setup an email and password, and from then on you have to login only the first time you need a password retrieved. Every time it sees you use a new password it asks you whether you want to save it, and it will auto-fill login details on webpages it recognizes.
One of the really handy features is that it saves your passwords on a secure server, encrypted with your own password. You might think this is an issue, but it’s far less of an issue than having them unencrypted – we’ve actually seen saved passwords stolen by viruses and used to hack websites on our servers. If you are saving passwords with IE (Internet Explorer) or Firefox, you urgently need LastPass!
LastPass has other useful advantages:
- it works in all the main browsers – Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer
- the passwords are stored securely – don’t forget your password or you’ll lose the saved passwords
- If your PC dies, you don’t lose all your passwords
- it works in multiple locations – eg on your home PC and laptop
- It works on both Macs and PCs
LastPass is many times more secure than saving your passwords in Internet Explorer and Firefox .. we strongly recommend you don’t do that any more!
How to install:
- Install Chrome if you haven’t already (the fastest way to do this is with www.ninite.com if you are on a PC)
- Go to www.lastpass.com and download the installer
- Click on run and accept the defaults
- Wait about 1 minute
- Set yourself up a username and a good password that you won't forget
Note you don’t need Chrome – but it’s easier to install it now and let LastPass add itself to chrome than to do it later … and you might fall in love with this great little browser from Google!
Tips for use:
- If you will ever use Firefox or Chrome, install them before installing lastpass so that lastpass sets them up properly in one hit
- Common sense: Don’t ever store your banking passwords or credit card information in LastPass. Common sense says this is a bad idea, even though I have no reason to doubt LastPass’s security, which sounds top notch. Don’t tempt fate.
- When saving a password change the description to be a little more meaningful, will save you time later
- Change the LastPass settings to log you out after a 2 hour timeout, or after the browser is closed for 10 minutes. You’ll have to enter your password a little more often, but it’s going to be more secure. If you live in a family environment and share your PC, make the timeout shorter or logout when you finish, or both!
- Use a sensibly good password for LastPass. This is definitely not the time to use your last name backwards, or your kids’ or dogs’ names!
LastPass is free to use, although if you like it you can send the developers some money by paying a tiny subscription annually.
We hope you enjoy this great free tool!