LastPass says users no longer have to reset passwords

Earlier LastPass order in wake of database breach is rescinded amid widespread user frustration

LastPass today rescinded its day-old order that all users of its online password management system reset their master passwords due to a database breach.

In fact, in a LastPass blog post this morning, that company said it won't allow users to change master passwords "until our databases are completely caught up and we have resolved outstanding issues."

In an e-mail to Computerworld, LastPass CEO Joe Siegrist said the company changed its plan in response to demands from users asking they not be required to reset their passwords. "They're asking because they know how strong their master password is -- that it's not vulnerable and therefore they know they're safe even if it was exposed," Siegrist said.

However, comments posted on a LastPass blog suggest that the company's decision may also be related to trouble some users appear to be having with the password reset process.

Several of those commenting on the LastPass blog page expressed frustration over their attempts to change the master passwords. Many said that changing the LastPass master password negated all their stored passwords, and thus they were locked out of accounts.

One poster said that after changing the master password, all other passwords in the vault had no data, "just cute little icons and a bunch of Chinese jibberish all over the page!"

"I changed my password now all my data is broken and I CANNOT LOG IN. OH YEA!!!," another poster lamented.

The LastPass blog post acknowledged that it had "identified an issue" with roughly five per cent of users that reset their master passwords. The company said it would be contacting those users about about a fix to the problem.

Users continue to complain on the LastPass blog site that the company delayed issuing notifications about the breach. The delay appeared to especially infuriate those that said they learned about the breach from external sources, such as Twitter.

Several users claimed that had known nothing about the breach until they tried using the system and then discovered they had to reset their master password.

When asked about the notification delay, Siegrist today said that the company's first priority is "stabilizing [the system] in a safe way first."

LastPass, which provides a free and fee-based online password management and form-fill services, said on Wednesday that it suspected an intrusion into a database server.

The company said that an internal investigation found that a hacker may have extracted email addresses and salted password hashes. Salting is a technique in which a randomly generated key is added to a password before it is hashed, to make it harder for people to misuse stolen passwords.

LastPass offers a service that lets users store passwords and usernames online. The service then automatically fills in the information when the user visits a site that requires the information.

Instead of having to remember multiple usernames and passwords, users only need to use one master password to access the service.

The company has previously maintained that strong master password used to access the LastPass service should protect users from the loss of personal information.

Siegrist reiterated those assertions today and said that LastPass continue to believe "that with a strong master password nothing can be compromised."

Even so, the company had initially sought to force users to reset master passwords as a precaution.

LastPass now allows users to bypass the reset process simply by asserting that their master password is strong. "We apologize for not having that available when we announced [the password reset plan]," the company said in its blog.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

Read more about security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.

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Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld (US)
Topics: Cybercrime and Hacking, databases, applications, security, software
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