Password management is somewhat of a necessity these days. Just like the warnings to use sunscreen to prevent sunburn, password management will help you stay protected from hackers. This is how to avoid getting hacked.
With there being the requirement to login to so many websites, having strong and unique passwords for each site is becoming increasingly important to the end user. If your passwords aren’t strong (e.g., if they use information like your spouse’s name and birth year) then hackers can guess them. And if you use the same ones for different sites, when some big company gets hacked (like they do all the time) your digital keys are basically available online for anyone to grab.The use of Lastpass to manage your passwords fixes these issues.
Lastpass is capable of generating and then storing strong passwords. Lastpass lives in your browser and acts like a digital gatekeeper, filling in your login info when you need to get on a site you are visiting. You just have to remember one (very secure!) master password for Lastpass itself, and everything else is taken care of for you.
The fact that Lastpass remembers and fills in your passwords will remove the possibility of forgetting your login credentials. For me, this creates peace of mind. I am never concerned about having to reset my passwords when using Lastpass as a password management system.
Setting Up Password Management
Like anything worth doing, password management requires some setup. Lastpass has many great features that will help with this, but setting it up properly is the key.
Once Lastpass is installed, you need to determine where your current passwords live. It is quite possible they live in your browser. If this is the case, Lastpass will import these passwords for you. Once you’ve imported your passwords from the browser you need to go back and delete them from the browser and stop storing them there.
Both Mac and Windows have system level password management. You can export these and import them into Lastpass. The key here is to have your password management system all in one place.
If you’re the type who writes down all your passwords, it is time to change that very insecure habit. You will have to manually enter them into Lastpass, but this will immediately increase your security.
Organizing Password Management
Lastpass allows you to create a folder structure in which to store your passwords. This is very helpful when browsing their vault. By adding things to specific folders it is much easier to find something later. Organization is just as important as password management itself. You will be tempted to throw everything into the root of Lastpass–don’t! Take the time to get organized as it will pay off in a big way later down the line.
Three Ways to Start Using Password Management
You may want to jump right in and begin using Lastpass for password management immediately or you may want to wait and do so over time. There are three ways to accomplish the switch.
- Import / export. LastPass lets you import passwords from a number of browsers.This is the easiest way by far to get started. If you’re using a Mac, you might also have your login info stored in Apple’s Keychain application; export your data.
- As you browse. If you don’t want to hand over the keys for everything to your password management system immediately, this is the best option. Just go about your business normally, and when you get the chance to enter a password online, your manager will pop up and ask if you want to save it. However: if you’re perma-logged in to lots of accounts, you’ll need to log out and log back in to upload your passwords this way.
- Transfer manually. You know how in The Karate Kid the karate kid is forced to do a series of repetitive tasks, only to learn their true value at a later date? Well, this is that part. Lastpass’ password management system has a clear way to enter new credentials. Get copying.
How Password Management Makes Passwords Safer
This is the tedious but essential part of setting up password management that makes the whole thing work. Once you’ve transferred your logins, you need to make them secure. To do this, you’ll probably have to change a lot of passwords. I won’t go into what makes a good password here because, thankfully, I don’t need to! LastPass has a built-in password generator that will come up with random alphanumeric strings for you to use instead.
You will have to change the password, however. LastPass has an automatic password-changing tool, which claims to get the job done with a single click, but this can be a little hit-and-miss. If a company has changed the URL for its password settings, for example, you’ll still have to trawl around their site looking for the right menu. But really, you need to do this. Otherwise you may as well have never bothered with the other steps at all.
The automatic password changing feature only works on supported sites. If you are headed to a site that is supported, the “Change Password Automatically” button will appear.
Upon clicking that button, you will note that Lastpass goes to work automatically changing your password to something very strong.
When this process is complete, Lastpass generates a message to let you know it has finished.
Password Management and Smartphones
Here’s where things can get a little bit annoying. LastPass has a mobile app, which will autofill your passwords on the most popular sites and apps. At times the autofill won’t work on certain sites or with certain apps. For those, you’ll have to copy and paste your password from the app itself. It’s a bit of a hassle, but you usually don’t need to log in to an app more than once, unless you lose your phone.
Next Steps in Password Management
That’s it! Once you’ve loaded all your passwords into the Lastpass password management system and audited them, you’re all done! This alone makes your world much more secure You’re so completely safe online that you never have to think about your passwords ever again! But wait…have you set up two-step authentication yet? That’s a topic for another day!