- You shouldn’t leave them out where people can see them.
- You should change them regularly.
- You shouldn’t loan them out!
Having a system for keeping track of usernames and passwords is a life skill in today’s world. I use LastPass to store my usernames and passwords in the cloud, making them available where ever I am, and on whatever device I am using. Many people allow their browsers to store their passwords. These saved passwords are specific to that computer and allow others to access your accounts when using that browser on that computer.
When choosing LastPass as the service to manage my passwords, I considered the security, privacy, and reliability of the service. LastPass never has access to my data which is encrypted and decrypted locally on my machine. No plain text is ever transmitted to LastPass. It has been recommended by several notable members of the press and received various awards. LastPass offers free and paid subscription accounts.
Browser Add-On: 99% of the time I utilize LastPass through a browser add-on, a button in the toolbar of my browser that allows me to login to my LastPass account and access many other features. I’ve installed the add-on in all the browsers on all my stations. I can choose to have LastPass automatically log me into a site, to just fill in the fields and wait for me to click the sign in button, or to do nothing. I would recommend setting your preferences to log out of LastPass every time your browser is closed.
Website: You can also access your data from a computer without the LastPass browser add-on (ie a Lab station) by logging into the LastPass website and accessing your “vault.” From your vault you can login to a site by clicking its title. Just be sure to log out of your LastPass account when finished using that station. When using one of your stations, you can access your vault through the browser add-on. Here you can add/edit/delete your stored data, and much more. You can view your passwords by clicking the Edit button next to the appropriate site and choosing to Show the password.
Apps for tablets and phones: To use LastPass on your phone requires a Premium account which is $12 a year. I pay for this because entering usernames and passwords on my phone is so tedious and I rarely get it right the first time. I use Firefox Mobile for my browser on my Android phone and have installed the Firefox Mobile LastPass Add-on. (There is an Android app which is a browser with LastPass integration.) On my iPad I have installed the LastPass Bookmarklets into the Safari browser. If I need to access my LastPass vault on my iPad, I use the LastPass App for Premium Accounts. (There is a LastPass Tab Browser App that can be used with a free account. This app is a browser with LastPass integration. So instead of Safari you would use this app to access websites requiring a login.)
Adding a Site to LastPass: As you create new accounts or login to existing accounts for the first time after installing the browser’s add-on, LastPass will typically capture your username and passwords. If needed, you can manually enter login information into LastPass, or tell it to save all data entered on the currently displayed webpage. If you have used Internet Explorer to save your passwords, you can import these saved password into LastPass.
- Secure Notes: You can also create Secure Notes in LastPass to store other data such as account numbers, software licenses, driver’s license number, etc.
- Form Filler: You can use LastPass to automatically fill in fields of online forms (address, credit card).
- Even More: There are several other features that you can learn more about in the User’s Manual.
LastPass will generate strong random passwords for you. But, I’m more comfortable creating my own. For my passwords I start with a base word that I create by meshing a word with a number. For example, Willard and 2012 becomes Will2012ard. So that I’m not using the same password for everything, I add the first 3 letters of the name of the service to my base word. So for eChalk my password would be Will2012ardech. There are times when I’m forced to change my password. I then take those first 3 letters of the service and move them to the front of my base word (echWill2012ard). LastPass generally notices when I’m editing an account and offers to store the new password.
This is the slideshow I use when teaching students about passwords.