Sunday, September 11, 2011

1Password

A mom, at any given moment, has what feels like a million different things to remember.  Things like where her keys are, what she promised to bring to Saturday's potluck dinner party, her son's favourite cartoon character, the fact that she needs to pick up a kitchen timer and potting soil next time she's out shopping, and of course,  all fifteen thousand passwords to every single website she has ever signed up for.

There's not much I can do for you if you don't have a place by the front door for your keys or a shopping list where to note down things you have to buy (may I suggest Grocery IQ?)  However, I think I can help with that last one.  1Password is a secure way to manage your passwords & online identities, as well as to keep track of other important, sensitive pieces of data.  With a tagline of "Have you ever forgotten a password?" it's easy to see how this piece of software can be useful in anyone's life, including a busy mom with more important things on her mind than what her log on credentials are to the local recreation centre's online registration system.

With versions for Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, and Android, plus web browser integration, you will honestly never have to look far for your passwords.  Now there are some other ways to go about password management.  The easiest of course being to use the same password everywhere.  Oh, except that's actually a really, really dumb idea.  Not every place is as security conscious as your online banking might be, and giving away your email/password combination at just one site that becomes compromised (or has questionable security/privacy to begin with) can result in your identity at many other sites being compromised by someone trying your email/password combination there.  Plus, different websites have different password requirements, so maybe one will be OK with your easy to remember "qwerty" or "abc123" but others will need you to have 2 letters, 2 numbers, and 5 interspersed asterisks or tildes (~).  Not to mention, that your usernames may also be different from one site to another.  Gosh, it's making my head hurt just thinking about it.

With 1Password, as the name suggests, you only need to remember ONE password.  Make it a multi-word password instead of a gibberish series of letters, numbers, and symbols, and it becomes even easier to recall.  This one password unlocks the 1Password tool - on your computer or on your phone, and you can then easily log in, either by copying the credentials for a form you are already on in your browser, or by clicking a link inside 1Password which automatically launches the browser and logs you in to where you want to go.  The password data file is secure & encrypted, and you can opt to store it in the cloud (so it's available to you everywhere), or in your Dropbox account (there are many other options as well such as a password-protected PDF, or a file to put on your own USB stick).  I personally use the Dropbox syncing service, and my husband and I share the password data file, so yeah, he can access the password to read my email, but if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, he can also pay the electric bill.  (That works for us.  Your situation may vary.)

One of my favourite features of 1Password is the ability to generate passwords - so I don't have to keep thinking up unique, clever passwords - I can just have the app generate them and it stores them for me.  It has made me feel much better about my online life, being able to have a unique and secure password for each site I have an account on, and to be able to manage all of these from one simple and accessible place.  Another great feature is the browser integration - I don't even have to open 1Password to use my passwords - I just click the integrated button, enter my master password (I can set the timeout period so I don't have to enter it All.The.Time), and bam, it fills in my credentials for whatever site I'm on.

You can read more about 1Password or download your free trial over at https://agilebits.com/1Password.  1Password costs $39.99 for Mac or Windows, and $14.99 for iPhone/iPad.  For some reason, it appears to be free for Android (lucky you guys!).

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