Tomorrow is National Computer Security Day, 2012. This day was first recognized in 1988 and still serves as a reminder for all computer users to be safe and smart. Computer security is a huge topic, but I’ll use this post to focus on a single topic: online passwords.
Entirely too many people use easily-guessed passwords or even the same one over and over again. Neither practice is a good idea. In this post I’ll share one app I use to generate secure passwords without requiring me to memorize a single one. I’ll also share a few tips for people to keep in mind. Let’s get started.
I’ve been using 1Password from Agile Bits for a few years. I like it so much that I recommend it to everyone who uses online passwords. There’s so much to like about this software and almost everyone can use it: Mac owners, Windows users and even iPhone, iPad and Android users can get in on the security and piece of mind that 1Password offers. It has several great features, and the first is tipped off by the name.
One Password to Rule Them All
On your computer, 1Password has two components. The first is the app itself. This is the main repository for your passwords and more. You’ll use the application to enter information, change information and review it.
The other component lives in your web browser. This simple button lets you log into sites for which you’ve saved a password and username, as well as create new ones.
Of all the magic that 1Password performs, its greatest trick is that it only requires you to remember one password. This master password offers access to all the others. Once you’ve entered it, you can log into services like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and just about anything else you can think of with a click. As long as you can remember the master password, there’s no need to memorize any of the others.
1Password also generates secure passwords. What do I mean by that? You pet’s name is not a secure password. Neither are your kids’ initials or your spouse’s birthday. Skip the name of the town you grew up in, too. In fact, almost anything you can pronounce and/or find in a dictionary is risky. Fortunately, 1Password can generate a secure password all on its own.
For example, say you’re visiting a new site that requires a password. Once you create an account with a username and password, 1Password’s browser add-on will notice what you’ve done and offer to generate a long password with numbers, letters and symbols (you tell it how long you want it to be, too). Let it do so and save the result by typing the master password. Presto! Your new account is in place with a password that isn’t easily guessed.
Sync across devices
1Password works on your Mac or Windows machine, and mobile apps are available for the iPhone, iPad and several Android devices. What’s great is that over-the-air sync keeps them continually up-to-date. If you create a new or updated password on your Mac, for example, that change will be reflected on your iPhone or Android device.
And, finally, it should go without saying, but no one was compensated to recommend this program. I’m seriously a user who likes the product.
More Than Passwords
1Password holds more than passwords and username. The desktop application can store account information, like iTunes or Google, notes you want to keep secure software registration information and even financial records and the like. It can even store your credit card information for easy completion on retail sites. It’s all secure and very handy.
Finally, one other benefit of using iPassword is that it eliminates the tendency to use the same password over and over.
I promise a couple of additional tricks for people who don’t want to use 1Password, and here we go. To create a reasonably secure password that you’ll be able to remember, shift your hands on the keyboard. Those of us who took a typing course remember the home keys: ASDFJKL;. Simply shift your hands one key to the right and start at SDFGKL;’. Now, type a long word or phrase that you’ll remember easily. Toss in a number or two and presto. You’ve got a password that looks like gobbledygook but is easy to recall.
Finally, here’s one for iPhone owners. You might know that you can type special characters by pressing and holding on certain keys. For example, press and hold on “o” to produce “ô”, “ö” or “ò”, among others. Use one or more of those when setting up your passcode to help ensure no one will ever guess it.
There you have it! Computer security is a huge topic, and using an app like 1Password is a small but crucial step in ensuring a safer web browsing experience.