LastPass gives its mobile password manager away for free

Individuals are increasingly having to think about the security of a multitude of different online services. Password management solutions take away much of this pain, and LastPass is now doing so for free, across mobile and laptops.

LastPass and its competitor 1Password are all about ensuring that users have safe and secure passwords across all of their services. At the moment, those without fantastic memories have a couple of options when it comes to passwords. Firstly, they can choose a common password for all their services, to make it easier to remember their login details. The issue with this is obvious: If one service gets breached, users potentially have all of their accounts compromised. The other solution is to use complex passwords but keep a record of them. This is also suboptimal, as said record can be compromised

LastPass attempts to provide another option by offering a centralized password store. The solution, which has been in existence for a number of years, offers a host of functionality beyond a password vault. It can generate secure passwords for services, has user profile information that can be used to auto-complete web forms and also has a security test and automated password updating to further secure users. LastPass itself is secured by a master password, the beauty of the system being that users only need to remember one main password, and because there is only one password to remember, that password can be complex and safe.

Of course, savvy readers will ask a very relevant question. What happens if LastPass itself gets hacked? Potentially bad actors would be given carte blanche to all a user's accounts. This is a fair concern, and it has to be admitted that LastPass has had a couple of security issues over the years. That said, as a pure-play password management vendor, LastPass can concentrate full time on ensuring that its solution is secure. It goes to great length to encrypt and obfuscate password data.

Anyway, one of the benefits of LastPass' paid product has been the ability to use LastPass' mobile applications and hence have the password manager working across all devices — fixed and mobile. The company has recently announced a change whereby users can access the mobile service for free, rather than needing to pay for a premium account. This new model also enables first-time users to sync data across the same device type they get started on, without needing to upgrade to LastPass Premium. Users can still choose to get started with LastPass on a desktop or laptop computer, too.

LastPass still has a premium product, and that allows users to sync passwords across an unlimited number of devices. The premium product costs $12 for a year. Unfortunately for PC users, LastPass does not yet support Microsoft's new browser, Edge.

I love LastPass as a product but certainly wonder about its business viability. Increasingly the platform vendors will resolve many of these problems, either through third-party authentication (allowing users to sign into a service with their Google or Facebook credentials for example) or by developing password stores for themselves. LastPass has an opportunity, but I'm not sure how long lasting that is.

For the moment, however, LastPass will continue to make life easier, and more secure, for Internet and mobile users.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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