Should you pay for your password manager?: Internet Scambusters #953
LastPass, one of the leading free password managers, has started charging for some of its basic services.
If you're already a user, we'll explain your choices and, if you want, how to find an alternative freebie.
We'll also tell you why you need a password manager and how to ensure you get the right one.
Let's get started…
Your Choices When a Free Password Manager Starts Charging
A big shakeup in the world of password managers is about to take place. One of the most popular of them all, which used to be free, has started charging users. And, like most security software these days, it's a recurring charge, which potentially means you'll be paying for the rest of your computing life.
We're talking about LastPass. To stay free from this month, users must decide whether they prefer it to work on their computers or mobile devices. It won't work on both unless you're prepared to upgrade to LastPass Premium, which costs $2.25 a month. And that's an introductory offer for the first year. After that it's $3.
Millions use password managers. Their basic job is to remember the different jumbles of letters, numbers, and symbols we're supposed to use on every secure site we visit.
Only a memory freak would be able to recall them all (unless they use some sort of logical structure).
Lots of people still don't use a password manager though.
More than half of all computer and mobile users who have already been scammed in phishing attacks admit they still haven't changed their passwords. And, at the latest count, 23 million account holders were still using the simple and easily guessable '123456' on multiple accounts.
That's unbelievably crazy, especially when password managers are so easy to use and, in most cases, will actually generate codes for you and then insert them when you visit websites.
But should you pay for your protection?
The argument that you should is that software development is an ongoing process that costs money, which has to come from subscribers. And most of us are well used to paying for other security programs like anti-virus.
Furthermore, many of the big names in password management already charge, sometimes quite a bit more than LastPass now costs.
Even so, there are still plenty of free password managers around. And, while $3 a month doesn't sound much, it could add up to hundreds of dollars over the years.
So, here are some tips to help you make your decision:
- First and foremost, if you're a regular online user and don't already use a password manager, it's time to start! An estimated 53% of users still rely on their memory. That's 53% too many. Too risky.
- If you're a LastPass user and work exclusively on one platform (computer or mobile) then you can stick with the free service. However, there won't be many people in this category.
- If you're a LastPass user and work heavily on both platforms, you have to weigh up whether you're prepared to go through the hassle of switching to another program, versus paying to continue using one of the best password managers around.
That's probably what the program makers are banking on (figuratively and literally!).
- If you don't want to pay and decide to switch, here are the key considerations in selecting your alternative (assuming you opt to go free):
- Does the program work across all platforms -- that is, mobile and computer?
- Is your browser's own password manager, or one offered by your Internet security software, sufficient for your needs? Not all of them meet some of the requirements listed below.
- Can you easily import your LastPass codes? Password managers that do import from LastPass tend to use different ways of doing this -- some simple and others quite complicated. Most involve converting your passwords into what is known as a CSV (comma separated value) file. Some won't import at all.
- Does it automatically synchronize between each device?
- Will it generate passwords, spot duplicates, and automatically update passwords to a schedule?
- Is it safe? Hard to believe but some free password managers have been found to use spyware.
- Is it well reviewed? Do multiple searches for "best free password manager." Note that some "best of…" sites charge developers to get high rankings. Stick with respected computing sites, like those of tech magazines.
- What is the developer's security record? Has it previously been hacked? Interestingly, LastPass has been the target of attacks and has had to patch vulnerabilities in its software code in the past.
- Does it work seamlessly with your Internet browser?
- Can you back up or export your passwords into a secure file or for printing?
As you can see, there are a lot of issues to be considered. So, you could find yourself asking whether it's worth the time and the hassle to research and make this switch.
You might find this investigation from CyberNews helpful in your deliberations: Are Password Managers Safe to Use in 2021? This will also help if you're a first-timer.
The point is that although we keep hearing that passwords are old-hat and will be replaced by new technologies in the future, we're still mostly waiting. In the meanwhile, password managers are a must -- whether you pay or not.
Alert of the Week
Money flipping or cash flipping, which makes empty promises to turn your hundreds of dollars into thousands, are reappearing on social media.
Victims are told to transfer money via digital wallets like Cash App. The scammers claim they'll invest your money and make a small fortune in just a few days.
They won't. They'll keep your money and run. They always do.
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!