We often explain 1Password by saying it makes it quicker and easier to use strong, unique passwords everywhere online. That’s a great pitch if you already have a good handle on online security. But we know that not everyone does. If you’re ever in a position of needing to explain the need for 1Password – whether to a colleague, boss, friend or family member – this post is for you. We hope this helps.
Where to start
A great place to start is with the problem a password manager solves. We try not to scaremonger, but at the same time, everyone should know that the internet is increasingly risky to use. For all the brilliant things it means for our everyday lives, there are also innumerable threats in the shape of criminals, hackers and con artists that want to steal or extort money, with powerful tools at their disposal. Stealing passwords is fundamental to their work.
Unfortunately, websites and the companies that operate them are hacked all the time, which can lead to what’s called a data breach. That means the hack led to the theft of important data. Often, that important data includes email addresses and passwords: the information needed to sign in to their site.
A few data points to help quantify the scale of the risk:
- The first quarter of 2020 saw 2,935 reported data breaches (Security Magazine)
- The third quarter of 2020 saw 8.3 billion pieces of data exposed by breaches (Security Magazine)
- In January 2019, 2.7 billion email and password pairs were shared in what is known as Collection No. 1. (as discovered by friend of 1Password, Troy Hunt)
A data breach can affect anyone
You might think there’s nothing to worry about if a site you use has been breached. Maybe it’s an account you haven’t used in ages, or it’s not somewhere you share anything personal or important. Perhaps you’re not sure what you used it for, but hey, you’ve got nothing to hide. Even so, a breach is still something to take seriously. You should change your password for the breached website right away.
But the bigger problems begin if you also use that password (or a similar one) somewhere else too – especially if you use it somewhere more important. Hackers can use a stolen password to try to sign in to other services, like online shops and email accounts.
This is viable precisely because millions of people reuse passwords, and that’s why hackers love data breaches. The breached site may be insignificant in terms of the value of the data exposed – they may well not even bother to sign in there. The value comes in the passwords gained that also let them in to somewhere more valuable.
Hackers have the tools to automatically try to sign in to vast numbers of different accounts in quick succession, and which can also try out typical variations in passwords people use to vary them up a bit in the mistaken belief it makes them much more secure. If you use a password like
12345Muppets%Shopping for one account, it’s not a big stretch for a nefarious algorithm to try
12345Muppets%Facebook and countless other permutations elsewhere.
Data breaches aren’t the only threat out there by any means – phishing being another notable example.
How 1Password makes this easy
The answer to this threat, and others, is to use a completely different password for every single account for every single website you use. And as well as being different, it should be long, complicated and random, so that the automatic tools hackers use can’t guess it in a matter of minutes or hours.
This is where 1Password comes in. Rather than having to create those passwords, remember or write them all down, then find them and type them in when you need them, it does all of that for you. It creates the long, complicated random passwords that keep you safe online, and remembers and fills them in so you don’t have to.
Yes, 1Password costs a few dollars a month, but that’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with using good passwords everywhere, and not to mention the convenience of never having to look up and type out a password again. (We don’t provide a free service, because free services mean compromises in quality, privacy or both – not a good look for a password manager, in our opinion.)
It’s OK to start small
If you use a handful of passwords almost everywhere on the internet, changing them may seem an overwhelming task. If that’s the case, remember that changing even one weak password is much better than changing none. Your main email account is a great place to start, followed by any sites where you think your current payment details are stored.
1Password is free to try if you’d like to give it a go. And if you have any questions along the way our wonderful support team is available around the clock. There’s never been a better time to try.