There’s not a week that goes by these days without more headlines of computers being hacked, email addresses and credit card information being stolen, or yet another security breach of what were once secure systems.
That brings up a growing problem that needs a simple solution. Login IDs, passwords, credit card information and anything else we store on the Mac or online is subject to the whims of hackers and thieves.
What can you do to safeguard your privacy, but not become so paranoid you consider living off the grid?
My situation and solution is probably similar to many other Mac users with multiple email accounts, multiple online login sites, e-commerce sites, social sites, and the standard fare of a live somewhat lived online.
How do you keep track of all the login IDs, passwords, security phrases and words, credit card information– and, make it available all the time, on every devices, but make it secure? Mac users have dozens of choices; apps which hold your critical information, and in some cases, sync it up between devices like iPhone or iPad so you always have the information with you and don’t need scraps of paper or need to remember every login and password.
My solution is expensive and a bit convoluted to setup, but once it’s working it does the job, Mac, iPhone, or iPad. I use 1Password, and have for years, but there are other options which work in a similar way.
The idea behind 1Password and other apps that store and retrieve valued login IDs and passwords is ease-of-use and tight security. 1Password encrypts your information with 256-bit AES encryption and requires a single password to display all login IDs and passwords.
My usage tends to run more toward saving 1Password’s files on Dropbox vs. iCloud. Dropbox works better and has been more dependable than Apple’s iCloud. 1Password stores your information, securely, in a Dropbox folder which then synchronizes between other Macs, or iPhone and iPad (and there’s also a Windows version).
Unlike many other password managers, 1Password has extensions, add-ons, for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox so you can use the browser to access to a secure site while 1Password fills in the login information. That is incredibly handy and the auto-lock function locks down your information when you’re away from your Mac (good for school, office, or while traveling).
My initial use of a password manager app only required storing login IDs and passwords. Those days are gone. Credit card numbers, social security details, bank account information, and more are easily pulled from 1Password, but it also stores documents and photos.
After the rash of online security breaches I’ve taken to upgrading passwords from simple eight characters passwords I can remember, to 14 to 20 character passwords with uppercase and lowercase characters that only 1Password can remember.
1Password might be overkill for most Mac users. It’s really more of a professional level application, but having a password manager means an extra layer of security but also brings ease-of-use back to the table.