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The average user has to remember the login details for hundreds of accounts on different services. That’s a lot of data taking up space in your head. How do you remember all this while using strong passwords that are unique to each user account? Read this review to see if 1Password can help you do that.
Introduction of 1Password
1Password is a password manager that provides its users with a secure place to store passwords and other sensitive data such as credit and debit card numbers, ID numbers, software license numbers, notes, documents and so on. This manager can even keep track of expirations dates of ID’s and other documents, so it is a useful helper in this respect as well.
This password manager is developed by the Canadian company AgileBits Inc., which presents it on its own website as the most popular password manager in the world. And it’s probably not far from the truth, as it’s used by over 15 million users worldwide. Users include big corporate names like IBM, Slack and DropBox.
How does the 1Password password manager work?
The principle of protecting passwords and sensitive data is quite simple. A password manager is a database of your data that you store in it. This database is located on a remote server and can be accessed via an app on your PC, mobile phone or via a web browser plugin.
When you register for 1Password, you set one master password that gives you access to all your other passwords. The administrator will also generate a secret key, which is a set of 32 characters. The combination of master password and secret key makes your password manager account an impregnable fortress.
The secret key is especially important when logging in on another device. You don’t have to worry about having to memorize that crazy long code every time you log in, but if you want to log in on another computer, you’ll need this key.
And look out! 1Password will generate a Secret key when you register that only you will know. When you register, you will also be given the option to download the Emergency Kit, which is actually a PDF with the Secret Key and other login information. If you lose your Secret Key in the future and are not logged into this password manager on any device, your account is lost for good and you will need to create a new one. Secret Key cannot be re-generated for an existing account. Which actually increases the security of the data you store in 1Password.
The combination of a master password and a secret key creates a complex encryption key that encrypts everything you store in the 1Password password manager. In cryptography, this function is called PBKDF2. I’ll admit that this is already a pretty complex topic for me. If you’re interested in the data encryption method more, I definitely recommend this article: Cryptography basics for managers: PBKDF2. The main point in using this complex technology is that if an attacker were to obtain the master password, but not the secret key, they would never be able to decrypt the stored data that you have entrusted to the password manager.
Security when using 1Password
I’ve already covered data security and encryption in the previous section, but how can you be sure that your data, passwords or documents won’t be misused?
The main threat to data security is the 1Password service itself. They just can’t see your data. It is available for them, but the information you store in 1Password is encrypted from the start (256-bit AES) and you can only access or decrypt it with a password in combination with a secret key. If you don’t give this information to anyone, then no one can get into the password manager.
The service also works with various experts. They oversee the technology and its security. Your data encryption is therefore bulletproof, and even the most expensive computing technology won’t help attackers. To prevent hackers from intercepting the password, secret key, or other data being sent to the server, this password manager uses the Secure Remote Password (SRP) protocol, which is resistant to eavesdropping and other attacks.
1Password has a lot of features hidden in it that will make it easier for you to not only collect login credentials for various services. It also has some extra useful features in it. These will help you keep track of the validity of documents or various licenses. You don’t have to worry about adding credit card details, document data and other sensitive data to the manager, which you can then take with you safely everywhere, even though it’s physically at the bottom of a drawer at your home.
The main function of the password manager is its excellent memory. Today, it is important to use complex passwords that combine different characters, numbers and letter sizes. And of course it is important to have a different password for each service. It is almost superhuman to type these passwords into the login. With 1Password you can use different password combinations similar to this one: @#..52Rt2#BlwY1ER. The password manager will have no problem using the correct password on a particular page. And he will have no problem remembering such a password.
Multiple vaults in one password manager
The purpose of vaults is mainly to separate different types of data into special compartments (vaults). If you add up the login details for all the services you use, and add in documents, valid insurance policies, licences and other important things, you can get hundreds of details at once. And it’s good to have these neatly sorted.
Depending on the package you purchase, you can then set who can view each vault. And if you’re travelling to areas where it’s common for customs officers to rummage through other people’s phones, you can easily turn on Travel Mode on your chosen safes to hide sensitive data when you cross the border.
Watchtower is a helper that watches for possible security breaches. First and foremost, the job of this guardian is to keep an eye on the website, and especially on the issues on it, so that you don’t accidentally entrust them with sensitive data. The Watchtower also has a built-in feature that alerts you when you’re using a weak password. I don’t like this feature, but these days just call for strong, long passwords. And unmemorable to the human brain.
Document Validity Guard
This is a feature that is in 1Password, but probably wasn’t intended to be that way. You can store your document details in the password manager. In the Czech Republic, the most important thing for us is probably the ID number and perhaps the social security number. The other information is probably not that important, because no one would accept the data stored in an app at a roadside check, for example, and you would have to get a real driving licence anyway.
I consider the Expiry date to be a much more important function . If you fill it in, 1Password will keep track of the validity of your documents.
You can also store payment card details, online banking details or PayPal details in 1Password. This data is safe and you can easily use it, for example, when filling in payment forms online. For cards, you can record all the information on them, as well as the period of validity. The password manager will then monitor the validity of the payment cards for you.
Secure notes and documents
This is a simple note-taking function. But the notes are perfectly secureso no one can steal them and read them.
1Password can also store documents, images and other files. This is already a rather rare feature. When you consider how secure this password manager is, you don’t have to worry about uploading sensitive data and important documents that you need to keep locked away.
1Password price plans are divided into Personal & Family or Team & Business. The personal tariff is designed for use by one person and there is nothing much to explain about it. I find the family plan very interesting, where you can connect up to 5 users. You can share passwords and other data with each other, but you can also hide it from other users. Both the personal and family plans offer 1 GB of document storage. In a family, this space is shared between all users.
In the corporate sector, you’ll probably be interested in advanced user management, including granting access to various data. The size of the space where you can upload secret documents and other files is also important. Disk space is not shared between individual users, but each of the connected colleagues has 1 GB or 5 GB of space (depending on the selected plan), which is a pretty big and well-secured storage.
Password manager app for desktop, browser and mobile
The 1Password password manager can be used across every device and operating system you can think of. You can use this password manager on all popular operating systems without any worries.
Most likely, you use a password manager to store your website login credentials. While both Chrome and Firefox can sync between devices, the data is not very secure. That’s why an app like 1Password, which is available on a variety of devices, comes in handy.
So if you save your login details on your computer, they are immediately available on your mobile phone and the app can fill them in the login form of the page you want to log in to from your mobile phone.
Pros and cons
|+ Apps for all operating systems
|- If you lose your Secret Key, a new one cannot be generated and you must create a new account. This is also good news, because it means that no one will ever get access to the data.
|+ Browser plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Edge
|+ Possibility to sort data into different vaults
|+ Convenient family tariff
|+ Secure notes, documents and files.
|+ Perfectly secure password manager
Conclusion and evaluation
1Password is one of the most secure password managers according to many sources. Its security method is really well thought out, so the security of your data is probably not easily compromised. If at all possible.
If the application contains some kind of backdoor for the needs of authorities such as the FBI, CIA, etc., we could argue about it for a long time and we would not get a reliable result.
The 1Password representatives themselves stress in discussions that they do not have your Secret Key and that it is impossible to decrypt the data without it. AgileBits Inc. is a Canadian company subject to Canadian law. So the backdoor for the US authorities shouldn’t be there. Not to mention ours.
But just for the record. As a normal, law-abiding user, your main concern is that your passwords, card numbers, etc. cannot be obtained by a hacker. That is, unless he can get his hands on your master password and secret key. You have to guard both. If you do this, your data is safe in 1Password. And I’m surprised you don’t have them there yet.