We spend a lot of time wandering the web searching for information on our ancestors. Many of the sites we visit require passwords to access that information. One big concern is keeping up with all those passwords used to log into the growing number of sites requiring them. To be secure, each site should have its own password and all passwords should be changed regularly. Add to that the growing number of portable devices – iThings, e-readers, smart phones, etc. – and the public wifi systems at libraries, bookstores and coffee shops. Securely managing login credentials and other personal information stored on your systems is a priority. It’s also quite a chore. I can already hear you yelling, “There’s no way!”
Actually, there is a way. It’s a very nice app called 1Password [Mac $50/Win $50].
1Password provides a secure database where you can store login information for all your sites as well as personal information like credit cards, bank accounts, memberships, software licenses and more. You only need to remember one password – the one that gives you access to your 1Password data. The application also installs an extension in your web browser creating a button in the browser’s toolbar. Now, when you visit a password protected site, go to the login page for the site, click the 1Password button, enter your 1Password password and the app will load the userid and password for that site into the login form for you. Shopping? At the fields where you need to enter credit card information, click the 1Password button, enter your password and choose the credit card you want to use. 1Password will input all that information for you.
All you have to remember is one password.
Using an app like this also protects you from keystroke loggers – hacker software that tracks every key you press and sends that information to some criminal to use against you. Instead of typing credit card numbers yourself, 1Password enters it for you – bypassing any eavesdropper. There’s also a secure password generator included in the app which will create a unique password for each site. These passwords would be almost impossible to remember, but then you don’t have to. You just use 1Password to insert it for you.
In addition to the desktop versions, 1Password is also available for the iOS devices [$18] and there’s a free 1Password Reader for Android. Both versions will synch with your desktop version to insure all the information is up-to-date on each system however the 1Password Reader has no editing capability. If you have multiple computers at home, you can buy a family license [$70] to cover up to 5 computers. 1Password supports multiple “vaults” allowing each member of the family to have their own private collection plus you can have a shared vault.
This app is a very important part of my digital toolbox. And, because it’s so easy, I actually use it. I love 1Password for managing logins and associated information like the security questions that are often being used for additional user security. I’ve also found it’s quite useful for the not-so-sensitive information I often need - my library card number or a store rewards ID. With 1Password on my phone, it’s always within easy reach.
Take advantage of 1Password’s 30-day trial to see how it works before you buy. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.