My password security fiasco: Part 2 of 3

May 7, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 7, 2017

When I left off my pulse-pounding story about forgetting my master password, I was discussing the trouble I had in recovering — that is to say, guessing — my password.

One of the problems was that I couldn’t just keep entering password guesses until I found the right one. If I entered enough incorrect phrases, LastPass would lock me out for five minutes. I’d wait a few minutes, repeat the cycle, and get no closer to having my passwords. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no other options for regaining access to my account.

Because practically everything on the Internet, and at least half the things on my smartphone, involves a password-protected account, I felt paralyzed.

For weeks, I contemplated setting aside a day just so I could guess my password. But the prospect was dismal, so I never did it.

Fortunately, I did have two workarounds — one of which I used, one of which I held in reserve.

The workaround that proved very handy was that my LastPass smartphone app gives me the option of logging in without going online. This effectively meant that I could use my old password, which I still remembered. I used the app this way a few times a week from March through the beginning of May.

LastPass mobile app login

LastPass’s mobile app lets users access locally stored data without going online, as shown here.

The LastPass app doesn’t let users download or export data, as the full web service does, so that wasn’t an alternative. But there was a kludgey way to do that manually: I could go to every account in my app and take a screenshot showing the web address, account user name and account password. Then I could establish a new account on LastPass or another password management service and type in the information captured in my screenshots. It would take a lot of time and effort, but it would basically get me back to where I’d been.

I never did this, but it was nice to know I had it in my back pocket if push came to shove.

Salvation would ultimately come from an unexpected source: One of my email accounts.

To be continued


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