Recently on the show, I talked about the problems with crooks tapping into financial websites and stealing your money. Most of us use simple, easy to crack passwords that don't help the situation. The problem is that we can't remember those goofy passwords with numbers, letters and symbols that we know we should be using for optimal protection!
These sites let you protect your passwords for free
DashLane.com is a freemium service that is free for basic capabilities or $12 annually if you want to upgrade for more bells and whistles. The basic way DashLane works is by generating a new master password for you everyday so all your accounts stay locked down. The service also offers the ability to act as an automatic form filler.
Some time ago, I talked about how the Commerce Department was working on a possible biometrics system for a better layer of Internet security. Well, a techie stopped me on the street after he heard me on the radio, and he hit me with so much info that went over my head that I can't even repeat it. But the one thing he told me that I did retain was about a free alternative that's already out there called LastPass.com.
LastPass allows you to store complicated multiple passwords for websites and have one point of access, so you only have 1 password to remember. It's also a freemium site, which means it offers both a basic, free version and an optional pay version with more bells and whistles.
Recently, however, LastPass was hacked. You can read the full details here. The upshot of their announcement is that you have to reset your master password, though they don't think people's info has been tremendously compromised beyond that.
But that's been the fear with these sites. Some people worry that now crooks just have to crack one website to get the keys to the kingdom. Yet I still think using one of these sites is smart. Because the reality is that almost all of us do use the same password at many if not all sites. So these clearinghouse sites make sense.
Remember, with brokerage and mutual fund accounts, the law is silent on any protections for you if you're hit by a hacker. It's up to the individual company's corporate policy to determine if they give you your money back or not.
And if you're a business owner, you may be subject to a loss of funds in an online account breach, even if it's not your fault. Using a site like LastPass or DashLane can show you took "due care" under the Uniform Commercial Code and possibly afford you some additional protections.