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Best tools for protecting passwords

David Strom | Sept. 4, 2013
Passwords are a security weak link, but these products help shield passwords from attackers

LastPass can integrate with the standard Windows Login process to automatically create new users and sign existing users in.

One of the things we liked about LastPass is that upon install (and you can run this security check afterwards as well) it tells you which insecure passwords your browsers (or password vault) have already saved, and gives you the option to remove them.

Another is that it synchronizes your logins via its own cloud service: once you create a login to its cloud, things are updated for your various entries. Sometimes the updates took a few minutes to propagate around the Internet. In addition to logins, their vault also stores text notes securely and can auto-fill online forms.

LastPass automatically installs its browser plug-ins, where you can manually add sites, or notes, to its vault, along with other configuration tasks.

Also included in the software is a complex password generator that has a few interesting options, such as the ability to set a password that you can easily pronounce and with a minimum complexity. You can either bring this up from the browser plug-in menu or from the Web client.

LastPass is free for the individual user, and you get the full functionality of the tool this way so IT managers can easily check it out and see how it works. Once you are ready to upgrade to the enterprise version, you can start a free two-week trial, after which it will cost you $24 per user per year. This includes the ability to use all of its smartphone clients; otherwise you will need to subscribe to a Premium account, which is $12 a year per user. We like this simplicity and ease of getting familiar with the product.

Finally, the various client modules for LastPass have better interface consistency among themselves than most of the other tools we reviewed.

Lieberman Enterprise Random Password Manager
Lieberman's password solution is aimed at a different market than most of the other products in this review. Their idea is to strengthen privileged accounts and shared administrative access to critical local Windows and Linux servers. Typically, many users access the same privileged account and all of them need to know the password.

Given that many enterprises have dozens if not hundreds of servers, it is easy to overlook that many of them have stale admin accounts or don't know where they are located. A common situation is being able to change all local admin passwords on a regular basis.

The Lieberman tool discovers and strengthens all server passwords and then encrypts them and stores them in a special database. You can choose from 128- to 256-bit lengths for AES encryption as well. ERPM creates unique and complex passwords that you don't need to remember, and changes them as often as your password policies require, including daily if you are ultra paranoid. Each account login can have a different schedule and complexity requirement.


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