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

Posted on by Mike Evans

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

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

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

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.