5 ways to ensure your passwords are always safe
Account hacking is a real and genuine threat, so making sure you have a safe and secure password for all your accounts is an absolute must. We are constantly told to try and avoid using the same password for everything, but remembering so many different passwords can be a nightmare.
Thankfully, there are software programmes and apps out there to handle that task for you and help keep you safe online. Let us run you through five of the best we’ve found to help keep account hackers at bay.
LastPass is available across the vast majority of internet browsers and mobile devices, and can be used on both Windows and Mac. It’s installed as an extension in your browser and appears as a button in the browser toolbar so you can quickly and easily manage your LastPass account.
While it will remember all your passwords for all your accounts, it does require you remember just one master password to login with, which shouldn’t be too hard at all. You’ll want to make this password as strong as you can, to prevent anyone from hacking in and stealing all your other passwords.
You save passwords to your ‘vault’, and you can either add them manually, or get LastPass to save them automatically the next time you login to a particular site or service.
If you want to change one of your current passwords to something different, you can, and LastPass can generate a random sequence of letters and numbers to make your account extra secure. And of course, you won’t need to worry about remembering the tricky sequence as LastPass will do that for you.
You can download the mobile app to your device as well, and all your saved passwords will sync across, just as long as you remember that all-important master password. While it will remember passwords for any websites you visit on your mobile device, you’ll need to pay a small monthly fee for it to remember passwords for your applications.
You don’t just have to save account passwords in LastPass though, as it can also be a place to store notes, Wi-Fi passwords or details of your driving license and you can save your debit and credit card details so you can autofill them in when you go to buy something online.
KeePass is a free-to-download, open-source password manager for Windows. You can install it on Linux and Mac computers, but you’ll need to run it through Mono, which lets you install Microsoft applications on different platforms.
There are unofficial ports available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices. We’ll be sticking to talking about the official version for Windows PC here.
KeePass works much in the same way as LastPass by storing usernames and passwords for different accounts in a database as encrypted files. You can also store notes and other file attachments.
The database of passwords is secured by a master password, key files and/or the current Windows account details, and everything is stored locally on your computer as opposed to in the cloud.
KeePass has a password generator to come up with super secure passwords to use for your different accounts and it supports a vast number of plug-ins, all of which can be seen on KeePass’s website.
Because of the slightly more difficult way to install KeePass on Mac and Linux-based systems, we’d say it’s only really a worthy contender for Windows users.
Dashlane works in a very similar way to LastPass. It works across various browsers and mobile devices, and can generate passwords with up to 28 characters to make them virtually impossible to bypass. Dashlane will monitor the passwords you have saved for all your accounts, and will instantly let you know if any of your accounts are compromised.
When you first install Dashlane, it will scan the history of any internet browsers you have installed and check for any saved passwords. Whatever it finds it can then import. It’s a really handy way to get all your passwords saved instantly, instead of having to remember where you have accounts or manually saving them each time you login to a new website.
When you login to Dashlane, you’ll need to enter your email address and then a security code that is sent to that email. Once you’ve put that in, you’ll then be asked for your master password.
If any of your saved passwords are old and in need of a refresh, Dashlane can do so at the click of a button. Simply select the passwords you wish to change, press ‘change’ and they’ll be updated and saved with new ones. It can also tell you how safe your current passwords are, in this case of this writer, the passwords could definitely do with an update.
Unlike LastPass however, Dashlane can’t store passwords for applications on your mobile devices.
There is a Premium tier of Dashlane which gives you unlimited password syncing across all your devices, gives you a secure and encrypted backup of your account in the cloud and allows you to login to your Dashlane account from any web browser.
LogMeOnce Password Manager
LogMeOnce works as a browser extension, so can be used across Windows and Mac, as well as iOS and Android. Like the other password managers on this list, LogMeOnce can ask you for a master password to login, but it actually has password-less login set by default.
It’s available in separates guises for businesses and consumers, and instead of typing in a password, you need to pair your account with your smartphone. When you try to login through a web browser, you’ll receive a prompt on your mobile device so you can verify your identity.
LogMeOnce will either ask you for a PIN code, a fingerprint scan or PhotoLogin, which shows you a photo on your device, taken by the webcam on your computer. If you see a picture of yourself, you confirm it’s you and you can login.
It can generate passwords with 15 characters by default, and can tell you approximately how long a password you choose yourself could take to decipher. LogMeOnce also asks you to change your passwords every three months by default, but you can upgrade to the Ultimate tier to set this timescale to your own personal preference.
If you happen to lose your mobile device and someone else tries to login on it, LogMeOnce will automatically take a photo using both the front and rear cameras and send them to your online dashboard. You can then view the photos to see who has your phone, along with their GPS location and IP address.
The cloud dashboard interface, which gives you an overview of all the websites you have passwords saved for, isn’t as good looking as the likes of LastPass or Dashlane, but it gives you several tabs to store different passwords, such as ‘work’, ‘family’, ‘finance’ and ‘travel’.
There are three tiers available: Premium which is free, Professional which is $12/year or Ultimate which costs $39/year.
Sticky Password is another browser tool that stores your password behind a master password key but can also rely on fingerprint authentication to log you into your account. It’s support across several platforms including iOS, Windows, Mac and Android, and has extensive browser support.
The free tier doesn’t let you sync data across your devices, that benefit is reserved for the Premium tier. With it, you can sync your password data to your devices via local Wi-Fi or via the cloud, you can also save an encrypted backup of your passwords to the cloud if you wish.
If you pay for the Premium tier, a portion of the money goes to help support endangered manatees, so you’ll be doing some good, along with keeping your accounts safe.
We prefer the interface of LastPass and Dashlane, but Sticky Password is still easy and simple to use and is a great option for storing all your passwords in one place.