The Techie Scheky series offers tips and tactics for being more productive and creative through technology (especially with a Mac).
When it comes to certain things, like passwords, I have the memory of a goldfish. Take this reality and couple it with exponential growth in the amount of accounts, profiles, networks and logins that I possess and it leaves me with two options: Use the same password for everything, which is not ideal1, or find a way to store a unique login credential for every account you create. In this day and age, the first is really not an option, so what is the best way to attack unique passwords? You can do this the hard way, manually create passwords and find a way to remember them or you can use a password manager like 1Password.
And how on earth do you do that?
With 1Password, it is easy to use our good friend Dropbox to securely store all of your unique passwords across all of your computers. Once you set it up, all you have to do is remember one super secret master password (that you never ever, ever tell anyone) to access all of your secure information. The best part about 1Password is that it works across Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPad, Android and Windows 7 phones, so it is pretty much going to work for anyone2. Better yet3, as you create new accounts, 1Password helps you craft secure passwords and stores them along with your usernames for easier logins in the future.
But isn’t one password risky?
You’d think that having one password, a password that has the potential to give someone access to all of your information, would be insane. But if you are smart about it, it is actually a lot safer than what you are probably doing now. Chances are you have a lot of redundant passwords or your passwords are all slight variations of the same one. This is a hell of a lot riskier if you really think about it. One password, that you do not use anywhere else (I repeat, that you DO NOT USE ANYWHERE ELSE), that is not a variation of your name, your birthday, your phone number or any other piece of your identity that could be easily guessed, is a lot more secure. In fact, the end goal is to get to the point where you don’t even know the rest of your unique passwords anymore, so if one of your passwords gets compromised, you simply change it and move one with no risk to the rest of your personal information.
What else can it do?
As if storing all of your passwords wasn’t enough of a reason to shell out $39.994, 1Password also works with Safari, Chrome and Firefox to offer three killer features that make it well worth the money:
1) Quick Login – With a simple keyboard command in Safari (my browser of choice), I am automatically logged into whatever website I am on. The act of no longer having to type in a password and a username (or to even have to look up what the password is), is saving me a lot of time while getting me into my applications and onto what I want to work on a lot faster.
2) Identities – Every time you type in your personal information to create a new account, enter in a shipping address or come across any field that requires personal information, you are wasting valuable time. Sure, you could use TextExpander to dramatically reduce the effort required to fill out each field, but 1Password makes it even easier. Once you set up various identities (work, home, etc.) you can quickly fill out standard form fields on almost every website with one click. This doesn’t always work perfectly, which is why I still keep TextExpander snippets at the ready for when certain fields get filled out wrong, but it always saves time.
3) Wallet – Just like your identities, you can throw your credit cards info into 1Password so you never have to dig into your back pocket or purse to make an online purchase again. Now, when I shop online, I can quickly fill in the bill-to and ship-to addresses as well as the credit card to pay for my purchase with ease. If you tend to be a bit lazy like me (read: really lazy) or just hate digging through your wallet, you know exactly how appealing this will be.
The bottom line…
If you have a lot of accounts, constantly find filling out forms or feel like you are always grabbing for your credit card, then 1Password is going to save you a lot of time and headache while helping you to stay a lot more secure. You want to be really careful about picking that master password, but once you have a good one in place, you can rest a lot easier knowing that your identity and online credentials are safer. After TextExpander, 1Password is hands down some of the best money I’ve spent on my Mac.
Geeky Quick Tip
You know all of those phishing scams you hear about happening on Facebook and through email? The ones where you click a link and even though you think you’re logging into your account, it is actually stealing your username and password? Well, here is another kick ass fact about 1Password… it knows if you are really on the site you are trying to log into and keeps you from providing your personal information to a potential hacker5.
- Especially in a world where a security flaw on a random blog can suddenly give a hacker or phisher access to every login you possess. [↩]
- Except the super geeky Linux, Blackberry Palm Pre users and let’s face it, who cares about Blackberry and Pre users? [↩]
- I know, I said the last bit was best, but I lied. [↩]
- $39.99 is the Mac or Windows version pricing, they also have a universal iOS app for $14.99 [↩]
- Not entirely sure where I picked this little tidbit up… think it may have been the Mac Power Users Podcast. [↩]