Home Features 1Password: Use a different password every time; don’t remember them

1Password: Use a different password every time; don’t remember them

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With our increasing dependence on the internet for a myriad of everyday functions, we are constantly asked to register here and there and to choose a password. It’s important to choose a password that is not easily compromised but the natural tendency is to use one, two or three easily remembered number and letter sequences. Overly complicated gobbledegook may be safer but it’s hard, if not impossible, to remember more than one of these daunting sequences.

  The main screen of 1Password for Mac. It stores all your sensitive information securely and you need just one (preferably secure) password to set it in motion
The main screen of 1Password for Mac. It stores all your sensitive information securely and you need just one (preferably secure) password to set it in motion

But what if you never need to actually remember a password? You can make them as complicated as necessary. You can have a unique password for every little website, every marketing portal, every utility company. All you need is some way of creating these unique sequences and then remember them. A password manager is one answer and the granddaddy of them all — and arguably the most polished and useful — is 1Password. I’ve been using it now on my Macs and iOS devices for as long as I can remember. It works flawlessly and the only password I need to remember is the One Password, hence 1Password.com.

By unlocking 1Password you gain access to details of all the websites, banks and service companies you have registered with. 1Password remembers them as you register initially and will then automatically enter the credentials into secure sites as necessary. Since you never need to see the passwords, there is no danger of you entering them by mistake into a phishing site. And 1Password will not do it for you because it knows that the site is not genuine. 

  1Password helps you fill in credentials automatically. In most cases it will open the web site and log on without the need for additional input
1Password helps you fill in credentials automatically. In most cases it will open the web site and log on without the need for additional input

Grandmother, eggs

I am sure that most readers are aware of all this. And I suspect a goodly number already use a 1Password or a similar application. But I mention it now because good old 1Password has suddenly generated the interest of Apple Inc. It’s reported this week that Apple is rolling out 1Password to 123,000 employees worldwide and there are (denied) rumours that Apple is interested in buying the Canadian company, AgileBits. What is not denied, however, is that Apple feels the need for password management well beyond what it offers in its own Safari and keychain applications. I do not think that there could be any greater endorsement of the need for 1Password than this. 

If Apple does open its voluminous wallet and snap up AgileBits, I confess I will be a bit disappointed. The good aspect is that secure password management will be force fed to Apple customers as part of the rather nannified “walled garden” that has helped protect users for so long. They might not like it, but sometimes a bit of enforcement is a good thing.

Dumb down

The bad side, I think, is that Apple will gradually dumb down 1Password in an effort to make it more acceptable to its billions of customers worldwide. Many of them, I suspect, will not readily take to the well-intentional strictures of 1Password and Apple will have to sugar the pill. The inevitable result of 1Password going mainstream in this way will be to drive away many of the current dedicated and knowledgeable users. As has happened in the past, this will leave the way open for a new specialist developer to cream off the top tier of knowledgeable consumers, thus leaving the dumbed-down Apple system to the masses. 

I shall be keeping an eye on this. I do hope that AgileBits can remain independent for just a bit longer. 

Back to tech

In passing, it feels rather strange to be returning to Apple as a subject on Macfilos. When I started the blog ten years ago it was predominantly technology related and Apple products were the main focus. Hence the name, Macfilos. Somewhere along the line, I started writing more and more about photography until it became the main focus. For several years I was a contributor to the local London Mac Users Group — via these blog posts — and I’ve been in hot water with the group’s newsletter editor for not writing more on Apple. So, Maurice, please take this as an olive branch. I will attempt to cook up more technical coverage.

In the meantime, I am taking a rare break from Macfilos for a long weekend. See y’all next week. 

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Safari – Apple’s web browser – can, of course, remember all the passwords which you ever use when visiting websites, and can automatically insert them when you return to any site which needs them. It can remember log on passwords, etc, if you tell it to, for routers, wi-fi networks, and other equipment accessed via the web browser.

    And if you want to remind yourself of a password for a site – or device – but can’t actually remember it; just log into ‘Keychain Access’, which is in your Applications > Utilities folder, choose which site’s, or device’s, or wi-fi network’s password you want, then put in your own Mac’s overall password, and there is your relevant pw displayed.

    So 1Password’s capability is already built into the Mac operating system.

    • I already use this feature as described by David above. What are the advantages of the 1Password system?

      William

      • William,

        Some of the advantages of 1Password:
        – It’s browser independent, so you can switch from Safari to Chrome to Firefox, etc.
        – You can use 1Password for many more things than a website password wallet. For example software license, bank details, email accounts, etc.
        – You can also have secure notes (I keep my Leica gear serial numbers and other info so I always have it handy).

        I have been using 1Password for years and have a love/hate relationship with it. Over the years, they have been changing the synching options and to be honest, I got so fed up with them being all over the place with synching that I gave up for a while. They seem to have got there act together now though. However… it looks like that with the latest version (7) they have adopted a subscription model which I loathe. So I will be using version 6 until it stops working and then I will search for something else.

      • William, Ian has made a very good assessment of the benefits of a password application such as 1Password. As he says, Apple’s keychain facility is available only on Apple devices and in Safari. It works after a fashion but most people don’t bother to put a master password on their Apple Keychain so it is potentially more dangerous than a walled garden such as 1Password. Keychain is used primarily for recording system passwords (including all those wifi routers we log on to) and sharing them on the owner’s other devices. As such, it is not easily manageable and there is the potential for idle fingers to do damage. Keychain has been around for many years and web password recording is an attempt by Apple to make things simpler for users. But it really is dumbed down and most users have no idea where their information is stored. I fear that Apple could take 1Password and try to make it more joe-user friendly and less of an application for organised people.

  2. I am in the IT-business for over 30 years and always felt kindof suspicious of password management software. An intellectual game…

    Question: What kind of thing would be a prime target of malicious hackers?

    Answer: Credentials of victims who have something to offer.

    So IMHO a piece of software that concentrates credentials (usernames, passwords, URLs) in one place is something that makes me feel unwell. In the age of Edward Snowdon I wouldn’t be surprised if one day password management software with a hidden backdoor will be discovered. Sorry about my paranoia, it is an occupational disease. 😉 Just ponder on this…

    • I can’t disagree with you on the possibilities, but I suppose we have to live with what we have and managing a large number of unique passwords is impossible without organisation — which means writing them down somewhere so that they are available on computers and smartphones. Face recognition technology is promising and Apple have a good implementation on the iPhone X. I love it.

  3. This is why God blessed me with a daughter, she keeps my passwords at her house, I forget I call her she tells me which to use, there are days I forget my socks! HA!

  4. I use a fairly unique system that stores my passwords in unique places – and then uses an untypical coding system to make them useable. Therefore negating the need for a single software solution.

    My view is, that all of the important things in life are taken care of by my will. I accept that if I pass, then no one will ever gain access to my sites, my Amazon account, or anything else that I have used online – but then why would anyone need too.

    As for using a software solution for personal use, I am with John W, and wouldn’t go anywhere near one. I have developed my own way of protecting that information, which so far survived.

    Dave

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