In a world rife with hacking events, cybercrime, and record-setting numbers of data breaches, it falls to tech users to be as proactive as they can about guarding their content. All too often, the user names and passwords that protect our accounts are the gold standard in identity theft-related crimes, such as in the announcements last week that two online tax prep services had been breached by hackers who’d used stolen user names and passwords.
The experts have long warned that the best passwords are the ones that can’t be guessed or deciphered by software that thieves use specifically to try out random variations of letters and numbers. (We’ll ignore, for the moment, the fact that “password” is still the most commonly used password…just ask the executives at Sony who had their accounts stolen in their data breach a couple of years ago.) So unless you have a didactic memory for keeping your 8 to 12 letters, numbers, symbols, and cases straight on every single account you own, you’re going to run into trouble keeping all of your accounts unique and secure.
That’s why LastPass was created. This one-site password manager lets you create wild strings of generated password combinations, then rely on LastPass’ security to protect all of those. You essentially log in only to LastPass with the most secure password you can remember, and let the platform keep up with your 20+ symbol and alphanumeric passwords, generated uniquely for every single account.
LastPass has been wildly popular from a security standpoint, but has needed to make a few upgrades based on ease of use and customer feedback. The company has now rolled out those features in the 4.0 version, and users should see some pleasant changes.
The first change, though, is ironically one that may have a few hyperaware tech users questioning their logins. Due to an unexpected trademark lawsuit, LastPass has dropped the asterisk from its logo, which was there to symbolize the asterisks that appear when you type in a password. Don’t be alarmed, though; the asterisk is gone but it’s not a copycat site masquerading as the real deal in order to get your login credentials.
Beyond the initial cosmetic change, the site has a few more face lift features now. The icons are large and easier to identify, the vault is more user-friendly and approachable, and the color scheme is a little more inviting. In all, it’s meant to be an easier, more appealing navigation experience.
One of the best features is the Emergency Access option. Utilizing the concept of the “password heir,” or someone who is designated to get into your accounts in the event of an emergency but who doesn’t need to actually know your passwords until such an event occurs, LastPass lets you setup a profile now that grants certain permissions to someone you appoint to use your account if needed.
The new Sharing Center is also going to be very popular with users, as it takes into account all those passwords that may need to be shared among a small group but without granting access to all of your passwords to the group. Users can select which passwords can be shared, and with whom. Be aware, some of the sharing features do require paid or business account setup.
Overall, the update addresses some issues that LastPass has been at work on for some time, and once the initial readjustment period is over, most users are going to be pleased with the new look and feel.