My friend Rob has been banging on about Agilebits 1Password for a long time. “Once you try it you’ll wonder what you did without it!!”, he kept saying. So a few weeks ago I thought what the hell and downloaded it from the Mac App Store.
Passwords are a normal part of everyday life with the internet. Every person has many accounts online and each of these has a login. Probably the worst thing you can do is use the same password for every site. If a malicious person gets hold of that password they then have access to everything.
With sites being hacked and databases compromised all the time (LinkedIn, Sony, GoDaddy to name a few recent ones) having a separate unique password for all your accounts is vital. But how do you remember them all and keep them safe? 1Password!
1Password is a very clever application that stores all your passwords and logins (and any other information you might want to store) in a special agile Keychain encrypted with 128bit keys. The only way to unlock this data is with your 1Password that you store in your head!
Somebody expressed concern at this saying they don’t want a company having all this data. [Editor's Note: Guilty as charged. I believe Toby's "somebody" may be me!] Well they don’t! 1Password is not a service, it’s an application!
Here’s how it works. When you install 1Password you're asked to choose a master password. This will unlock the application.
Once inside you can store any data you like from website logins to software serial numbers to credit card details, etc.
All this data is encrypted in the keychain and can only be accessed by your master password. Provided your password is solid i.e. not your name, birthday (palms to forehead!) your data is about a million years from being hacked. A good password should contain letters, numbers and special characters and be at least 12 characters long.
Hopefully you're getting the idea now. The application is however only part of the equation!
Once installed and inside the program, you're asked to install a browser extension. There is one available for Firefox and Safari.
When in your browser you’ll see a 1Password icon. Clicking this will bring up a 1Password window and ask you for your master password.
Once unlocked you’ll have access to any logins you have. When you log in to a site 1Password will ask you if you want to store the login and password and the URL. Once stored, selecting the site in the 1Password window will open the site in a new Tab, autofill the details and login for you!!
Once you start with 1Password, you’ll probably start to feel a bit paranoid that all your passwords are a bit rubbish. We’ll they’ve thought of that too. There is a handy password generator that constructs very strong passwords for you.
Just go to your account on any site and reset your password using the generator. 1Password updates the site login data and you're good to go. You don’t even need to know the password as it’s covered by you master password! Clever!!
If you have Dropbox you can sync all your computers by moving the Keychain into Dropbox. This is automated in the application. How safe is this? Well even if somebody did get into your Dropbox, the Keychain is still encrypted so pretty damn safe!!
Anytime you store a new login, Dropbox is synced and the results show up on your other machines immediately.
If you have an iPhone or Android phone you can take all your logins with you. You can connect with your Keychain in Dropbox by entering your Dropbox login. There are two levels to accessing 1Password on mobile. The first is an unlock code you define when running the app for the first time. To access any information you’ll need to enter your master password.
I don’t think I could go back to life without 1Password. It’s so incredibly handy and easy to use if I could give it stars it would be a galaxy’s worth!
Find out more about 1Password here.
For the past 20 years Toby has worked as a professional guitarist, programmer and producer. Clients include Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Shirley Bassey, Yusuf Islam, Giles Martin as well as the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. He has also worked extensively in TV, Advertising and Film. As well as composing himself he has also worked alongside many composers like David Arnold, Clint Mansell and Simon Franglen on many major film releases. An expert in synthesis and sound design Toby has also lectured for Apple on their Logic Pro music software which he has used since its days on the Atari. He has also worked as an educator for the International Guitar Foundation and the Brighton Institute of Modern Music teaching guitar. In his spare time (of which there is very little) he moonlights as a motion graphics artist specialising in Cinema 4D and After Effects.