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LastPass takes your passwords to the cloud

Marco Tabini | April 9, 2013
These days, it's hard for me to imagine life without password-management software. Good "password hygiene" is essential to protect my online data from prying eyes, and it would simply be impossible to handle the dozens of passwords I use every day in a safe way if all I relied on was my poor, overtaxed brain.

Upon registration, the app allows you to set up a personal profile that contains pretty much every single piece of information about you that can ever be useful in filling out a Web-based form, like your name, address, date of birth, credit cards, and so forth. You can set up an arbitrary number of "profiles" this way, and later use the information you store in them to save keystrokes when, say, registering on a website, or purchasing from an online store.

Naturally, LastPass's primary function is that of helping you remember passwords, which it does pretty well, even offering a convenient feature that helps you generate secure passwords that can then be saved directly into your profile, thus making creating a completely separate--and completely random--set of credentials for each site. Upon returning to the site, even from another computer, the app remembers all your details and can log you in automatically.

Playing nice with your data

LastPass makes exporting all your information a breeze; upon request, the data is saved in a plain-text comma-separate file that can be used to import all your passwords into another software product like 1Password. This ensures that, should the company go out of business, your data won't sink alongside the ship and become unusable.

Interestingly, LastPass also features the ability to import data from a remarkable list of third-party password managers, ensuring that the migration from another system will be just as smooth and worry free. In my tests, the app was able to load up a test 1Password file with hundreds of passwords in a matter of seconds, preserving all the essential data stored in it.

Finally, the complete deletion of your account can be accomplished in a matter of seconds, and without any human interaction or any hassle. The LastPass website has a dedicated page that asks you a couple of questions and, upon confirmation (which the page asks for twice as a matter of safety), instantly wipes everything clean and even sends you an email with helpful instructions on uninstalling your browser extensions.

Take the challenge

LastPass covers all the basics you'd expect from a password manager quite well, but it also offers a couple of features that are fairly unique.

For example, the app features something called the Security Challenge, which analyzes your stored data and flags potential areas of concerns, such as weak passwords or credentials that are reused across multiple accounts. At the end of the process, the system assigns you a score between zero and one hundred, and compares it with the scores of other users of the site.

I must confess that I originally discounted the challenge as little more than a gimmick, but it occurs to me that it is a brilliant way to help ease users into proper security practices in a simple and non-threatening way. In fact, even if you're well-acquainted with good password maintenance, this feature can help you make sure that you've covered all your bases well.

 

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