As more and more websites require us to set up online accounts to keep track of personal details, the importance of having multiple passwords greatly increases. Gone are the days where having a single password was sufficient for the few accounts that you had. Now, with heightened awareness of online security and crimes like identity theft becoming more common, having multiple passwords for different accounts is absolutely critical to keeping your online profiles separate and secure. That way, if the security of one of your sites were to be compromised and your password discovered, you would be able to rest easy knowing that the rest of your online presence is safely behind different passcodes. Once your understand how vitally important your online data is, the next challenge you face is actually remembering all of these keys so that you, and only you, can unlock it. This is where having a good password manager app is very helpful.
My favorite password app is for my iPhone, called 1Password Pro put out by Agile Bits. It has more than paid for itself and repeatedly proven its worth to me in the form of avoiding the wasted time associated with the all-to-familiar fruitless attempts of trying different passwords, until finally giving up (or being locked out!) and having to go through the process of resetting the forgotten key. 1Password Pro is a secure way of keeping track of all of your online accounts and their passwords. But it is more than just a simple text list that is easily viewable by anyone who wants to see it.
When you launch this amazing password manager app, the first thing you see is a prompt for an unlock code. This is the first level of protection that 1Password Pro provides you. You will initially have to set an unlock code so that you will be able to gain access to your stored data later, so it is wise to choose a code that you will be able to remember, and that no one else will be able to guess.
When you are in the app, you will see four button along the bottom of the screen, indicating shortcuts to Accounts, Notes, Settings, and a quick Add page. Let me start with the Setting page. The first button allows you to securely sync your passwords and other stored data to either your Dropbox account, or over Wifi to other 1Password devices you have in your home. I generally keep this off, to limit the opportunity of anyone cracking into my account, though there is definitely also value in syncing your data to other devices, akin to backing it up (though you still backup the data in your normal iTunes – iPhone syncing).
The next button is labeled as Display, and inside that tab you can set whether you want the app to Conceal Passwords as you type them in, or whether to just display ******. This is another layer of protection provided by the app, and this option also has pros and cons. If you use the app mainly as a database that you use to lookup passwords, you might want to leave this option set to off. Though, the app also has a built-in secure browser that you can use to instantly login to your various accounts with your proper credentials, without you ever having to enter the data at all. This is an incredibly time-saving feature, and if this is your main use of the app, then you really have no need to have to see your password each time you use it, plus this means that others can’t see it. Then you have your database backup options, and then the Security button.
In the Security screen is where you can change the app unlock code, and set how long before the app automatically logs out and requires the unlock code again. This is great in case you are using the app, put the iPhone down, and someone else picks it up shortly thereafter. With this on, you can be sure that your data is safely tucked away. On this page you also find a third layer of protection that you can enable, in the form of a Master Password. This is separate from the unlock code, and you will be required to input this password whenever you attempt to make any changes within the app. So, think about how secure this app can be: you need a 4 digit unlock code to gain access in the first place, you can have all of your passwords concealed by default, and to make any changes to reveal them or do anything, you can require an additional master password. These levels of security allow you to customize the app to be as secure or as convenient as you wish. This is a fantastic app and I can’t imagine storing my passwords any other way.
Of course, all that I’ve talked about so far is the settings and security features of 1Password Pro. Let me now mention what you can expect when you actually get to use it. The Accounts screen provides you a list of all of the accounts that you set up, sorted in alphabetical order. It looks very similar to what your Contacts app looks like. To add a new account, you simply tap the + button in the top right corner. Then, you are prompted to select the type of account you are looking to save. I generally only use the Generic Account template, because mostly, I am only in need of saving my username and password for a given website. Tapping on Generic Account, you are then prompted to name your account. So you can call it something more specific, like “My Verizon Account” or whatever. By clicking Save in the top right will advance you to the final setup screen, where you will find fields to input your Username and Password. Here, you can also toggle whether you want this information protected behind the Master Password Protection or not, as well as enter any notes that you wish to remember about this account. By tapping the blue Done button in the top right again will finalize the setup, and add the account to your Accounts list. Now, when you need a reminder of what your username and password are for your Verizon account, you simply go to the Accounts tab in the app, scroll to find it on the list, and you are immediately presented with the data you need to know (or else prompted for your Master Password first).
The Add button is where you can set new accounts or notes, and also has a built-in Password Generator that informs you about password strength, but one more notable feature in this tab that I want to mention is the Login button. If you tap it, you can select which type of website account you would like to add, and then you can associate your username and password with the website address. When you are done, you can simply find it on your Accounts list, and tap the URL to launch the built-in web browser that takes you directly to where you want to go and logs you in automatically. This is another great feature of this app that can save you a lot of time trying to find the right URL or navigating through poorly designed web pages to get to your login screen.You will also see along the bottom a button called Notes. Here is where you can create a note with whatever name you wish to call it, and then simply type whatever data or information you wish to record on that note. This can be anything that you think you are going to want to keep safe for later, not a note like “Gone to the store, back in 30 minutes.” You could use this as a repository for information such as a list of router or wireless network passwords (though the Accounts template also includes such a profile), and then you can go in and Edit the note afterwards to enable the Master Password Protection again.
Beyond all of these great security features of the app, to make it even more secure you should add an unlock code to your iPhone, so that you need to enter a password to gain any access to your phone at all. Even if you don’t store your password in this app, this is a very good practice that you should adopt, as many people don’t realize how much personal information is contained in their phone, even if not a list of passwords. Phone numbers and email addresses are some of the most notable kinds of data, but browsing history, app history, and more can easily be found on your phone if it’s not protected. By default, you can set the unlock code to be a 4 digit number (and the numbers are shown as on a phone, so you can pick a 4 letter word and easily find the numbers to match that), but if you want to have an even more secure phone in general, you can disable this Simple Password feature, and enable longer alphanumeric passcodes. To do this, you simply go into the Settings app, General, then Passcode Lock, and make the desired change.
Making these simple changes to your settings can make your iPhone super secure, and then the added security provided by 1Password Pro means that you can be confident that your password data is safe. This is an incredibly highly recommended app, and I can’t imagine having an online digital presence without using it anymore. It makes everything about passwords so easy, and you can rest easy knowing that your data is safe.
1Password has several different versions available, including versions for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows and Android devices. The iPhone version that I currently use is 3.7.2, though Agile Bits has advertised that version 4 will be released in the near future. I can’t wait to buy it, not only to see what additional new security features are included, but also to give my support to these guys for developing such a great app. If you need an app tactic to help you to keep track of your passwords, you can’t go wrong with this app!