• Reuters

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A French-American startup has launched an automatic password changer, leading a rival U.S. software firm to launch a similar service.

For most people, properly managing passwords verges on impossible, given the dizzying array of devices and websites on which we have become increasingly reliant. But Dashlane.com and LastPass are stepping up their offerings to counter hackers.

Dashlane, which was founded in Paris but is now based in New York, has acquired PassOmatic, a startup that created the automatic password changer it is building into its own products in coming weeks.

In response, LastPass, a competing supplier of password management software, said it now offers an automatic password changing feature of its own. The feature is available when LastPass users visit more than 75 supported sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.com.

Dozens of similarly featured programs exist, with LastPass, Dashlane and RoboForm among the most popular across both computer and phone systems. Each helps users store and organize passwords in a secure database controlled by a master password.

But by offering a way to change passwords regularly with just a few clicks, Dashlane’s approach marks a breakthrough in an industry that typically demands users create complex strings of text and numbers — a request that largely goes unheeded.

Dashlane says the feature will update passwords automatically at pre-set intervals or at the user’s request if, for example, a website’s security has been compromised.

Though some experts have said passwords will eventually be replaced by other forms of identification, such as fingerprints, the prospect of passwords disappearing completely remains a long way off, and Dashlane has, in effect, found a way to manage a user’s digital identity across the Web.

The LastPass password changer makes password changes locally on a specific user device, the advantage of which is that only the user has access to passwords, the company said.

Dashlane was founded in Paris five years ago by three engineers backed by Bernard Liautaud, the French entrepreneur who started Business Objects, the data analysis software company acquired by SAP for $6.8 billion in 2007.

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