1Password is a fully functional password manager service which places an emphasis on functionality, privacy and security, everything which is to be expected of a password manager really!
As our lives move increasingly towards the internet and onto smart devices it is more important than ever to keep our data as secure as possible. Naturally, as time goes on, having tens or even hundreds of unique passwords soon becomes impossible to manage for most people, this is where a password manager such as 1Password becomes essential meaning only a single password needs to be remembered by the user.
1Password actually goes far beyond been merely a password vault by offering subscribers the use of a Windows application, smartphone apps, browser extensions, a web based console and even access to 1GB of secure cloud storage which is ideal for keeping pictures of payment cards and the like safe!
- Well designed and very easy to use service
- Plugins available for all major browsers
- Applications for Windows and Mac PCs
- iOS and Android apps available
- Cloud synchronisation between all devices
- Supports 2FA (multi-factor authentication)
- Automatic password generator
- Automatic website logins
- Watchtower – Sends alerts when your logins are breached
- Easy sharing of logins from within the app
- 1GB of secure file storage
- 30 Day free trial available
To begin using 1Password means first navigating to the 1Password website and creating a new user account, this is a subscription only service although they do have a 30 day free trial to get started with:
During the initial sign-up process it soon becomes clear that 1Password take security seriously with a secret code being made available for download, following this an emergency access kit is also made available which must also be downloaded and then both these items stored safely. 1Password themselves recommend using secure personal cloud storage to store these items meaning only the intended user can access them!
Once the account has been created the first thing 1Password shows us is the web based password manager, from here most aspects of the service can be used although it should be noted 1Password also have multiple different apps and browser extensions to make using the service eve easier!
To start off with I will look at first installing the Firefox browser extension, this can be downloaded (as can all the apps) via the apps page accessible within the 1Password web console.
The extension is installed in much the same way as any other Firefox extension and once complete (it doesn’t require a restart) allows access via the use of the 1Password username and master password. 1Password will also, by default (as with all new apps) send an email to advise a new app has been used to log into the account.
Once the plugin is installed it helps make logging into websites much easier than having to revert back to the web console, search for and then copy over usernames and passwords each and every time. Instead, when visiting any login form the plugin will automatically search for the correct login and offer to fill in the login details automatically at the appropriate time.
Naturally, this also extends to creating new accounts (logins) whereby the plugin will recognise a login to a new site not yet in the users vault and offer to create a new entry and remember the password.
Another useful app is the Windows app which can be installed locally on a Windows PC, downloading it from the same apps page as the Firefox extension takes only a couple of minutes and once installed will be ready for logging in with.
Again, logging in in requires use of the 1Password username and password in addition to the secure key which was created during the initial sign-up process, once completed the application will be ready to use.
Types of Data Stored by 1Password
One of the main uses of a password manager like 1Password is, of course, storing logins for various websites and web based services. 1Password allows users to create entries in a variety of different categories meaning it is easy to store not only website logins but also payment cards, identity cards, official documents, secure notes and so on.
There is also 1GB of secure cloud storage included with a 1Password subscription meaning it is also possible to store photocopies of any important documents, passports, payment cards and so on. This can be very useful when it is not feasible to carry an original document but still have full knowledge of its contents!
Adding a New Site to 1Password
Once 1Password is configured one of the most important tasks for many users will be adding new website logins to their vault! As was mentioned a little earlier this can be done in many ways including automatically via the browser plugins, via the mobile apps, the Windows application or through the web based console itself.
Regardless of which method you choose this is a fairly straightforward process but in my opinion the browser plugins are essential as they will (in almost all cases) make this process completely automatic when you login to a new site for the first time.
Can 1Password Generate Passwords
Yes, 1Password can automatically generate unique and very secure passwords whenever they are needed.
This is a very important feature in a password manager as it makes the process of having a unique and secure password for each and every website you use very easy to manage. This is useful because in the event that a password is ever compromise and exposed to the world along with your login details (e.g. email address) then only a single website will be affected. In such cases it is fairly easy to then change the password for that single site knowing all other sites are still 100% safe thanks to them having different passwords (even if the login email is the same).
Imagine if your username and password (as per above) had been leaked and it turned out the username (email) and password were used regularly use across many different websites! In this case it would take much longer to change them all (you might even miss some) and it is much more likely that one or many accounts would be compromised, not a good situation!
Signing into Websites and Apps with 1Password
Signing into websites is, for many people, one of the most common tasks a password manager will be used for. Because of this any password manager which incorporates a web browser plugin which will automatically fill out login forms is at a big advantage versus those which don’t (yes, some still don’t have browser plugins!).
Thankfully, 1Password has very good web browser plugins for both Firefox and Chrome, this means once a familiar website is visited the plugin will create a drop-down box offering to fill in the login form automatically.
1Password also has a smartphone app available for both iOS and android, this will be synchronised automatically to the main account meaning that you will have access to all of your secure data wherever you go! As with the Windows app the account username, password and secret code are needed to initially configure the mobile apps. It is, however, really easy to access after this with fingerprint unlock available on compatible smartphones making use of the vault quick and easy.
The 1Password mobile app can also be used to automatically fill in app based logins, in Android this can be achieved by configuring the auto-fill service to use the 1Password app (as shown below):
How Secure and Reliable is 1Password
All data stored upon 1Password is encrypted using 256bit AES encryption, this is based around a master password principal of which only the account holder knows the passphrase. In addition to this base encryption 1Password also uses SRP (Secure Remote Password), this ensures all data is sent only across fully encrypted channels in the use of the service.
In addition to the master password based encryption, 1Password additionally employs a “secret key” system as well, this being a key-phrase which is generated locally on the users PC in order to verify the device to the 1Password service. Multi-factor authentication is also available allowing additional device verification to be performed with help form a 2FA app such as Google Authenticator.
In addition to an impressive login and device verification system 1Password also provide several other smaller security tools, one of which been the Watchtower service. The Watchtower service will, amongst other things monitor the security of your passwords and provide an alert should you use the same password on multiple sites. It will also monitor the web for data breeches and alert if any of your logins have been compromised giving you a prompt to change your passwords.
Can 1Password Import Passwords from Other Password Managers
Yes, in fact 1Password have made importing passwords from another password manager such as LastPass really easy with a specialist import tool. Simply export your passwords from your old password manager and then select the file for upload, the specialist import tool will then take care of the rest!
1Password uses AES-256 bit encryption to ensure all secure user data is encrypted locally on the device before any synchronization takes place. In addition to this strong encryption 1Password also supports multi-factor authentication and a secret key-code system to help ensure all devices are kept as secure as possible.
The Watchtower service is also especially useful and great to see included in such a product, this shows 1Password is more than just a password manager application and instead a security service keeping a watch out over all of your important password and login data.
1Password have a very useful knowledge base on their website which should have the answers to most common questions which might arise whilst using the service. Should you require any more support 1Password provide 24/7 online messaging support in addition to an online support forum and even Twitter support!
1Password is priced at $2.99 per month for individuals and $4.99 per month for a family licence covering up to 5 people. Business plans covering larger teams are also available.
1Password is a very capable password manager featuring everything you would ever reasonably need from such a tool. Priced at $2.99 it is in line with the cost of competition and with 1GB of secure cloud support and 24/7 technical support represents good value for money.
The web based password vault functions well but it is the browser extensions and mobile apps which really help make a password manager user friendly and 1Password certainly don’t disappoint in eithr of these aspects! It is also great to see that security is clearly a top priority with the 1Password service (as it should be) and is great to see multi-factor authentication and AES 256bit encryption standard among various other security features.
Overall I was very impressed with 1Password and would definitely recommend taking up their 30 day trial if you are currently looking for a new password manager. Well done 1Password!