updated 04:50 pm EDT, Thu May 1, 2008
First Look: 1Password
Everyone knows the importance of passwords. The problem is that the more websites you use, the more separate passwords you may need for each site, such as one for your Amazon.com account, and another for your Yahoo e-mail. Remembering a single password is easy, but the more you need to remember, the harder it becomes. What most people do is choose a single, easy-to-remember password, and use that on every website, which drastically lowers their security. A better solution is to create difficult passwords that are unique for each page; to make this task easy, consider using a program like 1Password.
The basic idea behind the program is to manage multiple passwords and store them in a single location. To access the bulk of your passwords, you only need to remember a single master one.
To save and enter passwords, the program integrates with your web browser, and is compatible with platforms such as Safari and Firefox, along with lesser-known browsers such as OmniWeb, Camino, Flock, and DEVONAgent.
When you visit a site that requests a password, you just have to type in the required information once, and tell 1Password to store it in a Save Form. Now the next time you visit this site, the program will recognize it, so you can click the Restore Form option in order to enter your password and user/account name automatically. This not only frees you from the tedium of typing passwords yourself, but prevents keystroke loggers from snaring your information as you type it in.
Often you may have several accounts on a site, each with a different password. In these cases, the program has no problem storing separate passwords under different user or account names. When you visit a site that asks for a password, just choose an account name and 1Password automatically inserts the correct data for that account.
It's possible to store multiple accounts and passwords to access a single site
For further security, the program can not only store passwords, but help you generate stronger ones consisting of letters, numbers and random characters. Since you don't have to worry about remembering anything, strange, convoluted passwords can become practical. All you need to worry about is using them, not the details.
As an added bonus, 1Password also offers a special Secure Notes feature, which lets you jot down information. Unlike the ordinary Sticky Notes program that comes with Mac OS X, which lets anyone access your notes, nobody can read your Secure Notes unless they know your access password.
If you shop online, the program can store your credit card information so you can access it without having to type it in each time. This again not only saves time, but defeats keystroke loggers intended for identity theft.
For maximum compatibility, 1Password can import previously stored passwords saved in a variety of programs including Safari, Camino, KeePassX, eWallet or RoboForm, among others. Such importing capability means you can switch password programs easily without having to remember and re-enter all your logins.
If you have a Palm, iPod Touch, or iPhone, you can sync your passwords from your Mac to your handheld device. Now you can use your saved passwords in both realms.
For $34.95, 1Password offers a rare combination of convenience and security. You may not necessarily need this type of program, but once you see the benefits after using the free 30-day trial version, you may definitely want it for everyday use.