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Buy 1Password: LastPass: review compares two of the best password managers around, #LastPass and #1Passwor.
- 1Password can import your Sites and Secure Notes from LastPass. When you import from LastPass: Your LastPass sites will be converted into 1Password logins. Secure Notes become different items depending on their type, like Bank Account, Driver License, or Secure Note. Folders will be converted to tags. Form Fills and documents will not be imported.
- Keeper Security. Keeper Security’s password manager has an app for macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS.
I recommend regularly that people use some sort of password-management system that lets them set hard-to-crack passwords (whether short and complicated or long and easy to remember) uniquely for every site and service, and also lets them fill in those passwords everywhere they need to.
Lowell Nelson emailed me a few weeks ago wondering why I’m so hot on third-party options, like 1Password, Dashlane, and LastPass, when Apple has a robust, multiplatform solution of its own that includes synchronization: Keychain. (Keychain more specifically describes the OS X part, while iCloud Keychain allows synchronization across devices and use with iOS.)
It’s a terrific question, and I prefer not telling people to buy into a paid service (whether a one-time fee or a subscription) unless the utility of that utility is so high that it outweighs the cost.
Let’s look through the details. Since I have tested and studied 1Password and LastPass extensively, I use them as the basis of comparison. You should be able to find answers to each of the points below in the FAQs or feature descriptions for any sufficiently robust alternative.
While Apple’s Keychain, 1Password, and LastPass can all store other sorts of data securely, passwords are the most reliable element that can used across a whole ecosystem and across platforms.
How secure is your data?
A password “safe” needs to keep the passwords, well, safe, in three major areas:
Data at rest on a device. Passwords should be secure on a device against anyone but the owner gaining access.
Data stored on servers. It should be difficult or impossible for an attacker to access and decrypt cloud-stored passwords.
Data in transit while being synchronized or to and from Web-based access. Strong encryption should prevent a snooper from unscrambling new entries, retrievals, and updates, as well as interactive sessions.
Keychain and iCloud Keychain are pretty dang robust in these regards. OS X and iOS have to be unlocked to fill Keychain entries, and OS X’s Keychain Access app requires an administrative or user password to unlock and view passwords. With Touch ID or a passcode in iOS and FileVault 2 in OS X, passwords are highly secure as well when you’re shut down (OS X) or locked (iOS). iCloud Keychain uses device-based encryption which prevents Apple from being able to (or being compelled to) decrypt your passwords.
1Password and LastPass use an “expensive” passphrase encryption method for your locally stored databases, so that even if someone gets ahold of them, a cracker can only brute-force password attempts at a very, very slow rate. LastPass tested this unintentionally after a hack: no reports emerged of any password vaults being unlocked.
LastPass syncs everything through its servers, but encrypts with keys known only to users. 1Password syncs via Dropbox and other cloud-based services (relying on their security and encryption-at-rest methods) as well as through its add-on subscriptions for sharing with family or team members, but it locks everything with user-owned keys.
LastPass and the team or family options for 1Password also give you access via a Web browser, and use browser-based decryption instead of native client software; the companies don’t possess your keys. However, there is a weakness in relying on the browser. Malware and other browser-based exploits make browsers much more vulnerable relative to the level of security available through native apps and cloud sync. Safari flaws in iOS and OS X are discovered regularly (though very few are seen in the wild), and you might be tempted to access your passwords from an unfamiliar machine running another OS.
How easy is the system to use?
A password system has to be easily invokable. If it’s not, you won’t use it consistently, because that’s human nature. Worse, if you’re installing it for someone else to improve their security, they may be unlikely to use it at all if it’s not a constant reminder and superbly straightforward.
Keychain is used largely by Apple as a way to remember passwords for specific fields on webpages, and to store passwords for an automatic retrieval and bypass in its software (like AirPort Admin in OS) or with third-party software that uses Apple’s Keychain hooks. In mobile and desktop Safari, Keychain works very well, from suggesting a strong password, to storing it, to making it possible to pull it back up or use other stored alternatives.
But while it’s broadly useful in OS X, as more developers have adopted it and there’s Keychain Access for direct lookups and retrieval, in iOS you have to drill down to Settings > Safari > Passwords to view, edit, or (swipe all the way to the bottom) add passwords. Further, you can’t invoke Keychain in Apple’s non-Web login dialogs, making it useless for common purposes. And while you can make up a password when you need one, it’s awkward to get to and can only be retrieved easily on a corresponding Web page.
Apple’s addition of extensions starting in iOS 8 allows 1Password, LastPass, and other tools to be invoked in Safari and other apps. Many iOS apps I use are tied directly into 1Password’s API that allows direct invocation. In the worst case, I can switch to LastPass or 1Password to find the password, copy it, and then switch back to the app and paste it in.
You can also use the app to create strong passwords that are retained on creation, synced automatically, and copied to the clipboard to use in other apps.
The cross-platform situation is much worse. Apple doesn’t make iCloud Keychain available outside its own operating systems. 1Password and LastPass (and other apps) are available across a broad variety of major platforms, plus they have browser-based access (by default with LastPass and as a subscription option with 1Password).
iCloud Keychain has no mechanism of sharing with other people—part of the ongoing narrative I’ve been discussing for years about how Apple doesn’t designs its systems from the ground up to recognize that people work in groups and as families. (Let’s not get started on the issues with Family Sharing.)
Most password systems have some mechanism to share secrets with others who have accounts. 1Password allows direct transmission without a subscription or, more recently, selectively shared access among members of business and family groups. LastPass, because items are centrally stored, has offered this for years.
Choosing between them
If you’re almost entirely using passwords only on websites, only using iOS and OS X, and don’t mind memorizing and typing in passwords demanded by Apple for its services, Keychain with iCloud Keychain fits the bill. If not all those conditions match, a password-management system is worth the investment.
Update: An earlier version of this story said iOS didn’t provide access to stored passwords or a way to create new ones. It does; it’s just buried in Settings.
Here’s the story of me leaving LastPass. It was 2:30 AM on a Tuesday. I was about to go to bed. I went to Twitter and right there was Lifehacker warning me that LastPass was hacked and I should change my password. Hackers got the good stuff. But LastPass’s security was good enough (hash and salts) so if I had a really long password (which I did), I was fine. Still, I wanted to change my password. I tried a couple of times. Finally, I got through. This was around 3 AM. I typed in a whole new password and a hint which I thought was just right. Then I went to bed.
When I woke up and tried signing in to LastPass on Chrome, I couldn’t remember the password. Well, I’ll just recover the password I thought. Apparently, it’s only possible using a one-time recovery key stored locally, which I had already used up (I didn’t have backup OTPs, which was my mistake). I tried it from other places I had LastPass installed. Same. That was it. I was locked out.
Now, I had a choice. Either create a new LastPass account or give something else a try. All this LastPass hack stuff had me thinking of 1Password anyway. So I went researching, downloaded the trial, played around with the app. The Mac app was available for $35 that week (I already had the Pro version of iOS app). I jumped for it.Sidenote: All my passwords were unique but based on a long pattern. So I didn’t need to reset all my accounts. I just needed to add them to 1Password and using the Chrome extension, that was easy to do. To know more about the best ways to create strong passwords, check out our guide.
Import Lastpass Into 1password
Here’s why. And there’s more to it than me just being careless with my LastPass account.
1. 1Password Doesn’t Use Servers to Sync
Unlike LastPass, 1Password uses a local database file that opens with the one master password. If you forget it, that’s it, you’re done.
LastPass, on the other hand, used their own servers to save passwords. While their security measures are really great, they’re still susceptible to hacks. The most recent one was last month. And while the hackers weren’t able to get to all the usernames and password if the user had a strong master password, it was still a cause of worry.
Hacking 1Password is a lot harder because, first of all, the local database in only stored on your Mac/PC. And even if you choose to upload it to Dropbox to make syncing easy, the hackers would still need to hack your individual account/PC. Which is a lot to go through. If you enable 2-factor authentication in Dropbox, you will be stress-free.
Plus, you don’t even have to use Dropbox to sync the database. 1Password will take care of the complicated bits to sync the database over local Wi-Fi network.Making sense of the pricing structure: One thing that’s not simple about 1Password is the messed up pricing structure. Both Mac and Windows apps are $50 each (they go on sale often). The iOS app is free to use but certain Pro features require a $9.99 in-app purchase. Android app on the other hand only has a 30 day trial, after which you need to pay $9.99. Please do something about this AgileBits. With LastPass, you pay $12 a year and get access to Premium features everywhere.
2. I Always Wanted an All Things Secured Bucket
I like to think of 1Password as less of a password manager and more as a bucket for “All things secured”. And 1Password makes it really easy to use it as one. We all have documents we need to keep digital versions of. But we’re never sure where they should go. Is Evernote or your email safe enough for a scanned copy of your passport or social security number? What about Credit Card details? What about those backup OTP codes where you have 2-factor authentication enabled?
When I was using LastPass, I never felt comfortable adding my Credit Card details there. But I did so in a second after signing up for 1Password. Because the way it’s built, I trust it more.
Plus, when it comes to Secured Notes, 1Password itself has more than a dozen presets with relevant fields ready. You don’t have to do anything. Also, it’s easy to attach files to a note. Say, you want to scan and upload a picture of your Passport along with the details – it’s easy to do. You can also create any kind of custom field you want.
3. 1Password Mini and Chrome Extension
Lastpass To One Password Download
I probably wouldn’t have switched to 1Password if it didn’t have a Chrome extension. LastPass had spoiled me. Although it’s nowhere near as good as LastPass’. I need to login every time I resume my Mac from sleep and it doesn’t have an autofill option. I need to manually select the website from the list to fill-in the details. It’s a bit harder, but I’ve got used to it.
Another really cool thing about 1Password is 1Password Mini. It’s the little menu bar app that’s always available. It’s easy to search details like account passwords and quickly copy it to the clipboard. Plus, you can generate a new password with any parameters you like instantly.
Watchtower: This feature was recently added to 1Password and it helps me keep track of which websites have been compromized and if I need to change my password. Plus 1Password also has a security audit tool built-in.
2 Factor Authentication: I’m sick of Google Authenticator, especially their Android app. 1Password has a system for 2FA it calls “Time-based One-Time Passwords”. I’m yet to try it (playing around with Authy right now). But the idea of having 2FA integrated right in my password manager is really intriguing to me. Especially because it’s going to work even on my Mac. Google Authenticator only works on mobile.
What Are You Using?
Are you a LastPass user? Do you use Apple’s iCloud Keychain? Or do you just save passwords in Chrome (you really shouldn’t)? Share with us in the comments below.
Lastpass To One Password Recovery
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