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Password management and computer securityFive hundred bucks. That’s roughly what the username and password you use to log in to your bank website are worth on the open market, according to a new study from Panda Labs. The exact amount will depend on your actual bank balance, but even security credentials for someone with the embarrassingly low balance of my account would be worth about $80.

But you keep your bank username and password safe, right? So you don’t have to worry, right? Well, maybe you do after all.

The odds of your bank website being hacked are extraordinarily low. But most people reuse the same login info on other sites they visit – and the odds of one of those sites getting hacked is much higher. As an example, the website for mobile app maker Trapster.com was hacked recently and now the security information of over 10 million users may be at risk.

So you might have heard that the solution is to use a different username and password for every site you sign up for, and to use passwords that include numbers and symbols. The problem with that advice is that while it is effective, it’s not terribly practical. With more and more sites offering content and features only for members, who can remember a different username and password for every site? So some people write their info down – but what if you want to log in from a different computer, or even a mobile device like an iPhone and you don’t have your note handy?

That’s where password management services like LastPass come in. These services integrate into your browser and manage all your passwords for you, so you don’t have to remember a thing.

When you go to register for a new site, LastPass will generate a random password for that site and store it in a secure list. When you go back to that site, the program will automatically log you back in to that site so you don’t have to remember a thing. And when you’re working on a different computer without the program installed on it, you can visit the LastPass’ secure website where you can login and find a list of your security info so you can use it wherever you are. There are even iPhone and Android apps so you can bring your security info on the road with you.

Though it is not the only password manager program out there, at $1 per month for the premium version, LastPass is one of the best values you will find. And if you are concerned about your online security – and you should be – it is a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides.

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