Here a password, there a password, everywhere a password. For your email, your banking account, for your social media account, for your travel site, for your e-commerce, your tax, your credit card….the list is long.
How do you manage them all?
Yes, some store their passwords on a piece of paper or in a real notebook — but that is a risky, cumbersome way. This week, we explore a few applications (apps) that help you crack the problem.
[Mac OS, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android]
iPassword is an expensive utility but something you will fall in love with over the years. For your iPhone and iPad, the utility costs Rs 990; for a Windows PC, it costs roughly US$49.99; for the Mac OS US$49.99 and for Android phones/tablets it is free (surprisingly). The platforms it does not work on are the Windows Phone and the Blackberry devices. The 1Password app stores all the passwords you may have, and this includes those for websites and bank accounts and it also keeps your passport and driver’s licence numbers ready. You can access all this information by using one single master password. The data that the application stores is encrypted.
If making up passwords is becoming difficult for you, 1Password also generates strong passwords with overwhelming complexity (such as “wiwh-ci5s-Xy4u-it7b-lk31”). The app uses a vault mode that lets you mark your favourites, so that if your bank site is something you log in to every day, the password is right at the top. There is even a built-in browser in the application so that it can automatically log you into services, and it uses iCloud (if you are on MacOS and iOS Devices) or Dropbox (across devices) to synchronise your passwords. So, whether you are on a Windows PC, an Android phone, or an iPad, it will synchronise and store all your passwords across devices. The only downside is that you have to buy a licence for each device you use.
[iOS, Mac, and Windows PC, Android]
Like 1Password , Dashlane also works across a number of operating systems, and unlike 1Password it is free – at least the basic version. However, if you want to synchronise passwords across devices, you need to buy the pro version which is US$19.99 per year (roughly Rs 1,100). In the case of Dashlane, just buying one subscription works across all devices. The professional version not only gives you an automatic sync of passwords and stored information across your devices, but also an automated secure backup of your data and web access to your data in case you are not around any of your devices or can’t get your device to work. The premium service for the Dashlane on Mac and Windows comes with a 30-day free trial as well. Dashlane also allows you to get secure notes.
An extra feature: you can send a note with a password to someone through the app and once the person has read it, the note destroys itself. The app can also send you security alerts if it detects one of your accounts is compromised.
If you are on a BlackBerry, whether the old Series 6, Series 7 or the New Z10/Q10, BB gives you a free utility called the Password Keeper. Unlike the other apps discussed here, the Password Keeper will not automatically log you in. Neither does it have a web or a computer application front-end, but it does help you store and manage your passwords. The other downside of the Password Keeper is that it works only on a BlackBerry. And in case you do not back up your BlackBerry and lose your handset, or your handset dies on you, you will need to recreate the database. There is no automatic backup to the cloud or synchronisation, and even if you do, you will still need a BlackBerry to get access to your file — even if you are going to migrate to another OS. You will have to manually write down and transfer each password — just like the old days..
[All Operating Systems]
Yes, there is something that works across all operating systems: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, any browser, iOS, Symbian, Blackberry, Android, and even the forsaken HP WebOS.
Last Pass offers you a free version as well as a paid version at US$12 (Roughly R720) per annum. Similar to all the utilities we spoke off, Last Pass also uses one master password to remember all your passwords. You can auto-fill the passwords in browsers, or store secure notes like information about where all your investments are etc. Want to share passwords? Last Pass premium will let you do that securely, if you have passwords saved in 1Password or your Firefox/Internet Explorer Browser. The premium version will import all this information as well, back up and restore your data when you add a new device, and help generate secure passwords.
A wise tip
Whatever your app, make sure you have a clear policy on how you generate passwords and change them often enough.