Posted: 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 15, 2013
By John Brandon
Four ways to create and store strong passwords.
Weak passwords can compromise your business and personal data. Still, many people use the same, easy-to-remember password for all of their online accounts. These tools let you create strong passwords--and store them all in one place.
Best for managing passwords and checkout
This desktop software and mobile app lets you manage passwords and e-commerce account information. After downloading it on your PC, Mac, iPhone, or Android phone, you create a master Dashlane password. Each time you visit a new site, the service prompts you to save your username and password. You can also click a button to generate a random eight-character password for each site. When you revisit the site, Dashlane logs you in. You can use Dashlane to fill in e-commerce checkout information, including addresses. It also sends an alert if a site you visit is breached. Cost: Free
Best for superstrong passwords
Much as with Dashlane, you install this software on your computer or smartphone and create a master password. Each time you visit a site, it prompts you to save your username and password. You can also click a button to generate new passwords containing up to 30 characters for each site. Unlike Dashlane, 1Password, which is available for Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, does not fill in your login information when you visit a site. Instead, you must use a toolbar on your browser to log in. Cost: $17.99 for iPhone and iPad; $50 for PC and Mac; free for a limited Android version
Best for password-free login... coming soon
Set to debut this month, LaunchKey does away with passwords altogether. First, you download the app on your iPhone or Android phone. When you visit a LaunchKey-enabled website on your computer, you type in your username and the service sends a push notification to your smartphone prompting you to press a button to verify login. LaunchKey alerts you if someone tries to log in to a site with your information. If you lose your phone, you can deactivate the service remotely. One drawback: The service currently works on only a handful of websites. Cost: Free
Best for thumb-drive storage
This metal USB thumb drive can store and encrypt more than 250 passwords. The 4GB device comes loaded with a browser plug-in that prompts you to save passwords as you log in to websites. You can also automatically generate a 20-character password for each site. To use the device, you insert the thumb drive and type in one four- to eight-digit PIN. Then, when you visit a saved site, MyLOK+ automatically fills in your username and password. The device works on PCs, Macs, and tablets with a USB port. One drawback: If you lose it, you're out of luck. Cost: $190