I have no idea what my Techzim password is. If you held a gun to my head right now, I wouldn’t be able to tell you the first character of the password for my banking app. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you whether it’s a number, letter, or other character. That is the idea behind password managers.
Over the years, I have accumulated a handful of apps I can’t live without on Android. There is Google’s suite of apps that come built into the operating system (Maps, Gmail, Photos…). Then there is Nova launcher, Swiftkey keyboard, Whatsapp, Podcast Addict, and my banking app.
Over the past six months or so another app has joined this close family: Lastpass. Lastpass solves a basic problem. A good passwords are a long string of random letters, numbers and characters. I could come up with good passwords all day, but I wouldn’t be able to remember a single one of them. Which makes them bad passwords.
Like most people, I have managed over the years by having a handful of passwords that I recycle for all the services I sign up for. Bad idea.
My first email adress 10 years ago was with Yahoo. I haven’t tried to access the account in at least 5 years. Last year, it emerged that there had been a breach of Yahoo usernames and passwords. Now, there is probably not much anyone would gain by getting into my old email account. However, a hacker could try that password on, say, my Facebook account. Or my banking app. You see the problem with using the same password multiple times?
Lastpass has an elegant solution to this problem. You can use it to generate long, random passwords. Having done that, it stores them in encrypted files that can be synced across multiple devices. I have the app on my phone, and I also install the Chrome extension on every computer I use.
The catch is, you absolutely cannot forget your Lastpass password. The company claims they don’t have the key to decrypt your data so if you forget your login they can’t do a password reset. That’s how seriously they take security. Still, remembering a single password is much easier than dozens.
For me what made Lastpass an absolute joy to use is having a phone with a fingerprint reader. Each time I want to log into an app or website, Lastpass asks me for my fingerprint and enters the login details for me.
Did I mention it’s free?
There are, of course, other password managers. Onepassword is another prominent example. Keepass is another. Lastpass just happens to be the one I use.
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