Password protection on the road
With 1Password, you'll only need to memorise a single master password to have one-click access to your database of usernames and passwords.
In early June, the issue of password security became front-page news yet again as hackers stole 6.5 million passwords from members of the social network LinkedIn.
The company notified victims that they needed to change their passwords, and all over the internet, the event reignited concerns about username and password protection.
Travellers in particular face a significant risk of data theft when they store sensitive information -- such as online bank accounts and membership details for frequent flier programs -- on the laptops, tablets and other portable devices that they take on the road.
Traditionally, password-management tools left your encrypted passwords stuck on a single device. But the latest wave of software acts as a much more secure battalion against security breaches, offering users the option of sharing encrypted passwords across multiple devices, so that when a user updates a record on one device the information is added to all of the other devices as well.
Protect your data with one of the below:
Best for Apple-users
With 1Password, you'll only need to memorise a single master password to have one-click access to your database of usernames and passwords, which is safe if you make that master password hard to guess. The software can import the passwords you've already stored through your browser's Autofill tool or it can generate replacement passwords that are difficult for hackers to crack. Unique among the tools mentioned below, 1Password allows users to store passwords in encrypted files on their hard drive — meaning hackers can't find them by breaking into a website. Travellers can also take advantage of the option to sync these encrypted files using the free online storage service Dropbox, so if you lose the only device that has 1Password installed on it, your private Dropbox account will have a back-up copy of your passwords. The 1Password software works with Mac computers, iPhones and iPads, and is compatible with Safari, Firefox and Chrome web browsers. For iPads in particular, it has the most intuitive interface of the three password managers discussed in this article. There's no Blackberry compatibility, though, and while the software does work with PCs and Androids, many Windows and Android users have complained about bugs in the service. ($50 for Mac or Windows, $15 for iPhone/iPad; free during beta-testing for Android)
Best for PC users
Like 1Password, LastPass uses a master password and has a tool to generate "strong" passwords. The software also allows users to create multiple "identities", meaning multiple people can use the same device without having access to the full range of passwords. It works well with Explorer, Safari, Chrome and Firefox web browsers; is compatible with Windows and Mac computers; and is uniquely compatible with Linux computers and Blackberry devices. Unlike 1Password, LastPass doesn't have a seamless way to import passwords already stored in your browser, and its Mac/iPad/iPhone versions aren't as intuitive as 1Password. (Free for computers and iPad, $12 a year for a smartphone with LastPass Premium.)
Norton Identity Safe
Best for travellers who love using Internet Explorer
This spring, Symantec, the largest seller of security software, unveiled Norton Identity Safe, free software for securely storing and synchronising passwords across multiple devices. The software works with PC, Mac/iPhone/iPad and Android devices (but not Blackberry), and is compatible with Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari Web browsers. The service lacks a few extras that LastPass and 1Password have, such as a password generator and a way to store information that's more complicated than passwords, such as account information for frequent flier programs. In tests, Norton Identity Safe also had some trouble consistently filling in forms on different websites, something I didn't notice with the other software products. Yet Norton Identity Safe was the best of the bunch in working seamlessly with the Explorer browser on any device, so if that is your preferred browser, this is your best option.
Sean O'Neill is the travel tech columnist for BBC Travel. In the past year, he's had a good experience using 1Password for Mac and iPhone.