Passwords stopped being an adequate security solution some time ago. They’re often not complex enough, they’re frequently reused, and data breaches have exposed a massive number of password/email combinations. Whenever you create a new password, unless it’s extremely long and strong, there’s a chance it’s already at risk.
And all of us tend to forget passwords, or have them unavailable when we need them, leading to a lot of password resets. That often leads to people reusing old passwords (again) or choosing easy-to-remember ones, which in turn become easy-to-guess passwords for anyone trying to hack into an account.
We all need a very long list of ‘long & strong’ passwords and as a result using a password manager has turned into a requirement of modern life. A password manager offers three major benefits:
- It securely stores all of your passwords, so you don’t have to remember them.
- It auto-fills the passwords into most of your accounts whenever they’re needed. This saves you from needing to remember them but also from having to retype them.
- It can create ‘long & strong’ passwords for you, saving you the hassle and creative energy of coming up with something.
Once you get used to life with a password manager, you’ll find that it, unlike many other privacy and security-minded tools, will actually make it easier to improve your privacy and security.
There are many good password managers, including LastPass and DashLane, but our favorite and recommendation is: 1Password.
1Password is a password management tool available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iPhone and as a browser extension for a variety of supported browsers.
1Password’s individual plan costs $2.99/month (billed annually). This plan allows unlimited passwords, items, up to 1GB of document storage and unlimited device support, so you can use it across devices and browsers with a single account.
For families, you can use 1Password for $4.99/month (billed annually), which gives you up to 5 accounts and the same 1GB document storage for the account. Additional logins are available for an additional $1 per login per month.
The feature list
No matter where it’s installed, you get into 1Password by entering your Master Password or scanning your fingerprint on devices that support that feature. If you’re using 1Password for all your accounts and passwords, this is the only password you’ll have to remember.
1Password keeps its information (like passwords) in ‘Vaults.’ You can create and use multiple Vaults and Vaults can also be shared with different 1Password users if you’re using 1Password for the family or for a team.
Think of Vaults as secure folders. In each Vault, you can create, store, and view passwords, associated log-in pages, web form details (such as name, email address), previously used passwords, when a password was created, and when the information in the Vault was last modified.
Vaults aren’t only limited to storing login information and passwords. You can store documents, notes, photos, and more. Here’s a screenshot of what you can add to a Vault from 1Password’s desktop app.
1Password’s Watchtower is its security-dedicated feature. It alerts you if a website with login information in a Vault has weak security or has suffered a data breach. It will also flag any passwords that are vulnerable, reused, or deemed weak. Lastly, it scans websites in your Vault to see which of them offer 2-factor authentication (2FA), an additional form of account security. We encourage turning on 2FA for any flagged accounts for extra privacy and security.
When considering password managers, security is arguably, its most important feature. Fortunately, 1Password holds up very well. All the information stored in 1Password is encrypted and accessible only on user-approved devices. 1Password can’t even see the information stored on accounts so you can be sure they’re not snooping on you either.
1Password’s encryption and cryptography is top of the line and always updating so hackers can’t access the information in your 1Password tool even if they somehow obtained remote access to 1Password. This is because the Master Password, a Secret Key (stored locally on devices), and the copy of the encrypted data is required to unencrypt the data.
Life with 1Password
While there’s a bit of a ramp-up period when using any password manager, once you get used to it, you’ll find that using 1Password makes browsing the internet much easier and safer.
On desktops, think of 1Password as a cross between an extremely secure file folder and a password generator. For existing accounts, such as your email, bank, and social media, you can create new items in a designated vault and store the existing log-in information and password. From there, you can use 1Password to copy passwords and enter them as you need them.
For any new accounts, such as an app, dating site, or retailer, you can add a new item to a vault and you can generate a new long and strong password for it. That password is then saved to 1Password, ready for you to use whenever it’s needed. Because 1Password stores it, you don’t have to worry about memorizing it.
Note that 1Password doesn’t show passwords by default (and lets you copy them without showing them) but it gives you the option to see the password if you wanted to. This is just an extra layer of security in the rare chance that some hacker or malware has some screen capture technology installed on your computer.
On mobile devices
The mobile app works similarly to the desktop version but with additional convenience. If you give the app permission, 1Password will detect when you use a password and asks if you want to save it with 1Password. It will also detect when you need to create a password and asks to generate one for you. In all these instances, the next time you need to use the password, 1Password will fill it out for you whether you’re on an app or browser. On iOS devices, there is a deep integration for iOS 12 and later devices that makes it easy to use 1Password to enter just about every password you’ll ever need.
This turns into a major convenience as it essentially makes logging into anything a one-click process that still providing the security a complicated password provides. The password detect feature also helps you add accounts as you normally use a device rather than having to take the time to insert all your existing accounts.
The 1Password browser extension works just like the mobile app. It will detect when you need to create a password, when you might need to save a password, and when you need to use a password. As you continue to use your browser, the extension will autofill passwords whenever you need them. For a detailed look, you can just press the 1Password extension icon and a small drop-down window comes down and shows you any associated information just like the desktop app.
The mini-version of 1Password is a version of the desktop app that functions just like the browser extension and mobile app. The mini desktop app will detect when you need to create passwords and it will create and use one for you. This will work on browsers and standalone desktop apps as well.
1Password is one of the most secure password managers there is and offers a lot of flexibility between its unlimited device support, and versions that accommodate individuals across browsers and different operating systems.
As you continue to use 1Password, you’ll find that keeping your accounts secure is easier than ever before.
In-article images from author.