For most people, properly managing passwords verges on impossible, given the dizzying array of devices and websites on which we have all 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, said on Tuesday that it has acquired PassOmatic, a start-up that created the automatic password changer it is building into its own products in coming weeks. The deal's terms were not disclosed.
               
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.
               
"With one click, LastPass' patent-pending technology launches a website and logs in for you, then automatically changes your password," the Fairfax, Virginia-based company said in a statement.
               
Dozens of similarly featured programmes exist, with LastPass, Dashlane and RoboForm among the most popular across both computer and phone systems. Each helps users store and organise 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.
               
"The key is to have reasonably complicated passwords that are different on every website," Dashlane Chief Executive Emmanuel Schalit said in a telephone interview.
               
Dashlane says the feature will update passwords automatically at pre-set intervals, say every 30 days, or at the user's request if, for example, a website's security has been compromised.