Critical vulnerabilities found in LastPass password manager

binary on a screen with words 'hacking attack'

A Google security researcher has found bugs in popular password manager LastPass that could put the security of millions of users of the service at risk.

While little is known at present about the actual nature of the vulnerability, Travis Ormandy of Google Project Zero security team alluded to a serious problem in a couple of tweets.

"Are people really using this LastPass thing? I took a quick look and can see a bunch of obvious critical problems. I'll send a report asap," he said in one tweet.

"Full report sent to LastPass, they're working on it now. Yes, it's a complete remote compromise. Yes, I promise I'll look at 1Password," he said in a later tweet.

It is not known if the flaw or flaws reside in LastPass's network, browser extensions or mobile apps. There is also no evidence that flaws are being exploited by cybercriminals in the wild. There are some reports that the flaw could allow a user to be compromised simply by visiting a website, although this is unconfirmed at present. However, as the password manager stores users' valuable login details, including usernames and passwords, for multiple websites, the flaw could be a very lucrative target for hackers.

Ormandy has a reputation for finding vulnerabilities in the security products that are meant to protect us from hackers. He has found flaws in Symantec, Avast, Malwarebytes and Kaspersky products in the past.

Gavin Millard, EMEA Technical Director, of Tenable Network Security said that with rampant password reuse, poor abilities to create strong passwords by the average user and the sheer number of credentials we're supposed to remember, the need to use a password manager is clear.

"Password managers aren't without issue though, and LastPass themselves have been in the spotlight before for other flaws discovered," he said.

"Unfortunately, as the complexity of Password Managers increases, innovative functionality added and support for multiple devices by syncing through the cloud, it's not surprising vulnerabilities will be discovered. I'm still an advocate of password managers, average humans simply don't have the capabilities to retain many complex strings of characters nor should we have to, but when using these helpful tools, we have to be aware of the risks and benefits," he added.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for LassPass said in a statement: "As always, we appreciate the work of the security community to challenge our product and ensure we deliver a secure service for our users. Our team worked directly with the security researchers to verify the reports made and worked quickly to issue a fix for LastPass users. To apply the fixes, we recommend that users update LastPass on their browsers."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.