Passwords and user names—memorizing them, or even just keeping track of them—are a hassle that plenty of companies are trying to solve. Among the latest efforts is the PasswordBox app for Android and iOS, which now includes a function called 1-Tap.
PasswordBox, for smartphones and tablets, stores all of a user's log-in information for apps like Gmail, Pinterest, Facebook, PayPal, Dropbox and many others. Once information is stored in the app, signing in to other apps is simplified. Launch an app such as Facebook, and a PasswordBox icon pops up, offering the option to let it automatically log in for you. Tap the box to accept, and you're in.
PasswordBox not only remembers everything, it saves users the time of typing in log-ins and passwords. Further, it alleviates the frustration, said the company, of being made to change your password on a Website and then facing a prompt from the app, requesting the update, since it syncs the browsers on all of your devices.
"Apps have never been able to interact this way on iOS and Android. We had to solve a lot of pretty big technical hurdles to build [a solution] that continues the PasswordBox experience into other apps, while keeping your personal data secure," PasswordBox CEO Daniel Robichaud said in a statement.
"With biometric technology on the rise," Robichaud added, "PasswordBox is ready to bridge the gap between those advancements and all of the software and Websites we use on a daily basis."
PasswordBox, he said, "is the only solution that works across devices, platforms and mobile applications."
1-Tap is also incorporated into PasswordBox's Legacy Locker—a feature that, should you, um, die, passes on secured information to an appointed person.
The Password Mountain
Solutions like PasswordBox—which faces competition from other free apps like Dashlane and Keeper Password & Data Vault—also encourage people away from the habit of using the same password for multiple accounts, like their email and their bank account.
The Keeper app includes a picture of a die—tap it, and the app creates a random password of letters, numbers and symbols.
After a security breach at Adobe last year, a New York Times article told the story of a software engineer—trying to win a $10 bet with a friend, who dared him to figure out his password—looking through the 9-gigabyte file that the Adobe hackers had posted online. He was able to figure out the password—"dinosaur," the same password 500 other people had used—because although Adobe mashed up users' passwords, it didn't do this for email addresses or the hints people used to remember forgotten passwords.
In tens of thousands of instances, said the report, users' hints were things like, "Same as my Facebook password." By looking elsewhere, pieces of the puzzle could be put together.
Another key lesson from that article: Passwords that are 13 characters long are "prohibitively" harder to crack.
The government is also interested in helping Americans be safer online. In December 2012, it awarded a grant to Verizon, Criterion Systems and other online identity technology companies, as part of an initiative called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, to test the feasibility of using "trust elevation" tactics such as a single, highly secure user-password combination for all online accounts.
The initiative will involve eight pilot programs over the course of two years.