This month, we found and used several applications for a variety of tasks:
Excalidraw is a web application for drawing diagrams that look like they’re hand-drawn. It’s effortless to use, pretty, and on top of exporting to PNG and SVG, there’s a collaboration feature, so you and coworkers can diagram together! I used Excalidraw to generate the Software Education Roadmap (and the header image to this article). Completely free.
750 Words is an online web application for building a writing habit. Each day, you can open this application and just start typing. Once you reach at least 750 words, your day is marked complete, and you’ll get an analysis of your entry for mood, sentiment, outlook, and other “traits.” Your writing is secure and private. First 30 days free, $5/month afterward.
Fakespot is an online tool for analyzing and discovering fake reviews on websites like Amazon, Steam, Best Buy, and more. Since the online seller’s market is so saturated, people resort to petty tricks to gain traction (like generating fake reviews with bots). Fakespot can help you tell which companies are shitty liars. Completely free.
The above tools were honorable mentions for this month. Now, on to the main app.
Image Source: LastPass Website
The Internet is the epitome of convenience and abundance. You can do anything online. Buy furniture. Take notes. Store data and transfer files. Watch funny videos. Whatever you want to do, there’s probably an app for it.
But with new gains come new pains: account hell. I have an Amazon account. And Facebook. And Twitter. LinkedIn, Medium, Substack, YouTube, Gmail, etc. (repeat 100+ more times).
It’s a hassle to manage all of these different accounts and their passwords—worse yet, people have lousy security practices. They use short passwords. Their passwords are apparent, like a birthday or important milestones. People reused passwords across multiple accounts.
On top of being predictable for even human hackers, did you know that a supercomputer can crack an all-lowercase, 8-character password in only two seconds? Or even with symbols and numbers, only four hours?
That’s if the supercomputer guesses everything randomly. If you train it with common patterns (like “p@ssw0rd”), it will crack accounts even faster.
And yet, you can’t reasonably expect people to remember dozens (or hundreds) of passwords, for many accounts, all at least ten characters, with a healthy mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and number without reusing anything.
But not to fear—LastPass is here.
You’ve probably heard of the Keychain Access if you’re an Apple user, or you may remember when Chrome and Firefox first started asking you if you’d like to save your password.
LastPass has 10x as many capabilities and functionalities, and it’s cross-browser as well as cross-platform. It’s a modern solution to a modern problem.
Remember account logins. Each entry in your vault contains the URL, username, and password. You can categorize and put your accounts into separate folders.
You can auto-generate passwords, and LastPass automatically saves them. Are you creating a new account somewhere? It’s maybe four additional clicks, and you instantaneously have a secure password you don’t even have to care to remember.
Cross-platform, cross-browser usage. Supporting all the major operating systems, phones, and browsers, you can save your passwords and access them from practically anywhere. It’s usable offline (assuming nothing has changed somewhere else).
Easily manage everything in the Vault. It’s so easy (I have hundreds of accounts, and LastPass has saved me severe headaches).
Also, store bank credentials, credit card numbers, etc. It’s secure and can track everything for you.
Security Challenge. In a somewhat gamified format, LastPass will rate and score how secure your passwords are. You can use the Challenge to adjust and fix any insecure or old passwords, as well as find out if individual accounts or passwords have been breached online
Automatic Password Rotation. LastPass has APIs configured (basically: automated software functions) to automatically rotate passwords for you.
Family, Team, Sharing, & Enterprise Plans. On top of family and team plans, there are enterprise plans which can enforce strict policies on user passwords and accounts. LastPass supports 2FA as well as SSO for secure login.
Pros & Cons
Fully featured, flexible, and powerful. I haven’t found myself wanting for password management needs.
Cheap. Individual plans start at only $3/month (billed annually). Even business or enterprise plans are only up to $6 or $8/month.
Extremely convenient and encourages better practices. I’ve stopped trying to create my passwords and just let LastPass handle and generate everything for me. Don’t even have to think twice.
Android app is glitchy. I can’t speak for iOS, but using the Android app, sometimes I have to wrestle with it to get my passwords and credentials entered into apps.
Browser plugins sometimes incorrectly detect fields. Sometimes when using LastPass for a browser, it will incorrectly detect input fields. For example, it might insert my username into a “City” field, or it will enter my password into a “Notes” field on a web page. It’s not a show stopper, but it can potentially be dangerous if you click through quickly without double-checking.
LastPass sometimes shoots itself in the foot. I’ve had moments where LastPass, in an attempt to be automatic and user-friendly, will incorrectly detect a form submission as a password change. If you’re moving too fast and accidentally click “OK,” you’ll overwrite your password and then have to play the Reset Password dance with vendors.
Overall, the cons aren’t at all terrible, and the pros of using an app like LastPass have absolutely been a game-changer for my password security.
If you’re looking to propel your own security practices into the 21st century, for yourself, your family, or your company, LastPass is worth looking at.
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