Like most people, I have signed up for a vast array of internet services. Let’s start from the beginning, imagining you are a “new to the internet” user (if such a thing exists anymore).
When you sign up for internet service, you are given credentials to login to your online console where you can pay bills, check email, order new services, etc.
From there you may decide not to use the email address you were provided by your ISP (in case you decide one day to change providers), so you sign up for a free Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail account. Then your friends tell you about Facebook. “You have got to get on Facebook” they say. And so you do.
And if you’re anything like me, over the last few years you’ve accumulated multiple accounts of each. I personally have three Gmail accounts, two Hotmail accounts, and two Yahoo accounts – and that’s just E-mail. Making things worse, as a Google Apps user, I needed to make an additional Google account to access their new Google+ network (which has angered a large mob of angry *paying* Google Apps fanatics).
In light of all this, I’d absolutely love to have the same password for everything, but there are two major problems with that. One is that having the same password for everything is a security faux-pas (one should theoretically have a different password for each service so that if one password is compromised, you need not replace all of them). The other is that many services (such as banks and other sensitive areas) require passwords within specific parameters, for example “password must be a minimum of 8 characters with at least one uppercase, two symbols and one number”. Unless your initial password happens to coincide with the strictest of parameters, you’re forced to imagine a new password.
So how does one manage all of this? How do you escape from password hell?
- It’s multi-platform including mobile. Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android.
- It’s pretty, especially for Mac. Never underestimate the impact aesthetics has usability.
- There are browser plugins. These will automatically detect a login form being filled out and will prompt you to save the credentials for storage (and later automated use)
- Flexible licenses. Have more than one computer? Purchase a family license which covers both Mac and PC and includes 5 licenses.
- It syncs! 1Password leverages Dropbox to synchronize the password vault between all devices. You are not required (as with some other programs) to manually copy the database or create each record individually.
- Password generator. Can’t think of a new password? Select the parameters you need and let the password generator do the thinking. Since you’ll be saving the password in the software anyway, it doesn’t have to be memorable.
- AgileBits appears to be a Canadian company. Not really a selling point per-se, but worth noting. We make good stuff.
There are other password management tools out there, one worthy of notable mention is the open source program KeePass, which bears some resemblance to the Windows version of 1Password. The major advantage of KeePass is that it is free, whereas 1Password starts at around $40, depending on what license option you pick. But if you want a streamlined program that integrates seamlessly securely, I can highly recommend 1Password to anyone.
And before you ask, no. This is not a sponsored blog post.