Why I still Trust LastPass

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After the 2015 potential security breach at LastPass many people became paranoid about lastpass. Even some deleted their accounts and moved to alternate solutions or pen and paper.

Truly speaking even I was scared about my data beig secured and for sometime went back to a small pocket notebook and a pen. using a small pocket notebook, a password generator on phone and a pen was all I needed for sometime until “I lost my pocketbook“.

Ofcourse my passwords were not all in plain text, somehow I had a random text after all my passwords which only I knew so someone logging to my sites using that notebook was not much of a concern but loosing all my accesses was. Kept wondering how did all this hassle of writing down passwords helped me as I have to begin all over again. If I would have used a password manager, atleast I could have taken a backup of some sort.

So finally it was time to move back to a decent password manager. Choices were many. Lastpass, 1Password, Dashlane, Enpass etc. For weeks I went through reviews, tech articles, blogs etc. after which became all the more puzzled. But then I found out that 1Password released their 6 months account free for new users. I jumped on it, created a new account; installed 1Password on all my devices and was extremely happy with the service.

Everything was magically getting synced to all my devices. All about 6 months my trial was over, now it was time to pay for the service. Ofcourse they also need to make money, I can’t expect something like this for free (there’s no free lunch). Their desktop app (without account) was extremely expensive. I switched to iOS app version and used that for sometime. But everytime on my Mac I had to manually type those long passwords. So I decided to give a shot to lastPass or Dashlane.

I checked the prices, and LastPass was cheapest among them. Dashlane was a solid product but was expensive and it didn’t have a file upload feature which Lastpass premium and 1Password has. So lastpass became the no brainer choice. It was even free for personal use and with premium you get some extra benefits like family sharing, priority tech support and 1GB of file storage. Went with Lastpass finally. The migration was a breeze with import utility.

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The plugins were all installed on all my browsers and I started using Lastpass inspite of all the paranoid articles. Ofcourse I am no security expert and no knowledge of server side code, but since last pass had web access I decided to give it a shot and see the API calls.

I tried some random email/passwords combinations, and found that the Master Password, as claimed by them is NOT transmitted to them. Only the user Email and some device keys, encrypted userId and some Hash gets transmitted.

Here is a screenshot:

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Though something made me uncomfortable. When I tried a random test Id (but with valid domain like abc123@outlook.com which may have been someone’s actual id on LP- (apologise if someone has similar id and got a notification for failed login try – I was just typing random id which was something like this) I saw that the error message was “Invalid Password”. I couldn’t understand as I had typed gibberish and that email should be invalid. So I tried my test email with wrong password, and same message of Invalid Password was given. But when some complete junk email was provided ( xxxx@something.com ), Lastpass gave a popup asking whether I want to create an account. Now I am not sure if its because of the valid domain or lastpass validates the email in their database and provided the error message.

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This doesn’t look right to me. I think LastPass should not give any hints whether an email id valid or not. If someone tries my email id even without knowing my master password, he/she will know atleast that I have an account with Lastpass even without asking me (they can’t login to my account without knowing my Master Password though).  But this may result to phishing attacks.

But other than this small concern, the Network calls looks pretty ok. Everything is done on the device and personally speaking I liked what I saw or atleast what I understood. They really have made a solid,secure product and probably I will soon sign up for their premium version.

Thanks to lastPass for keeping us safe and taking a lot of burden for us.

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Thanks,

TechDaily24x7 — Stay Safe

Newton vs Spark iOS Email App

Comparing Newton and Spark app on iOS

Newton (previously known as Cloud Magic) and Spark both are very well known softwares among Mail App lovers.

Both of these are loved globally by many and have changed the way people email on their phone. Recently with Mac Apps for both, the game has taken an all new turn.

Newton which acquired the name recently from Cloud Magic, introduced a subscription based model instead of the free one which previously they had.

Along with the name change, they brought a ton of features to the App making it a beautiful, minimal yet somehow a very powerful option for people.

These new features are referred by them as “Superchargers“.

Both the contenders do the basic emailing just fine. Syncing emails, snooze emails, drafts, Archive are pretty basic features available for both and they just perfectly work.

The major difference being here are the Features which make them stand outside the box and ofcourse the cost. So lets see what each of them has unique and also the common ones.

1) Design: Newton has a very clean design with not much clutter and options to get confused with. It can literally be used by an 80 year gradmother with little training.
But clean design doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful design. Design itself is subjective and may differ from person to person. Saying that there are NO theme options available to Newton as of today. The UI though nice may not appeal to everyone, including me, nonetheless I am sold with other bells Newton has to offer. On a note Newton has different color codes for accounts which is missing on Spark as of now.

Spark, on the other hand has a theme option and some nice UI colors on its plate. The UI looks modern, crisp and really professional. So for design we give it to Spark because of modern look and multiple themes.

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Newton Layout with colours Inboxes

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Spark Theme Options

2) Multiple Account support: Both these apps have most of accounts supported including Exchange and IMAP. So you are good with either of them.

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Email Configuration for Multiple Accounts

3) Send Later options: One of the most powerful features of Newton is the send later option. You can compose an email now and schedule it to be send At a later date and time.
Something clearly missing in Spark and so without doubt this round goes to “Newton”.

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Send Later on Newton

4) One touch Unsubscibe: We do receive tons of newsletters and Newton has a beautiful “unsubscribe” button for those Newsletter emails.
As of now this is absent in Spark.

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Unsubscribe on Newton

winner : “Newton”.

5) Attachment: Both Apps can attach files from iOS extension (App Drawer) and hence can be used like a Desktop class Mail App on iOS. Attaching multiple files from different sources is possible (one from icloud, two from dropbox, one from OneDrive as example) and these apps does attach the original files not just links. Pretty neat for either.

6) Undo Send: Again both have that undo send option making this a Tie.

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7) Read Receipts: Another powerful feature from Newton. When you send an email to a user, Newton keeps track of that email and sends a read receipt to show if the email has been read or not. It will also show a blue double tick on the email when its read much like a chat on whatsapp.

Something Spark doesn’t have as of now. This itself makes Newton a wonderful choice and worth every penny.

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Read Receipts

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Blue Tick showing Email Read

Winner : Newton

8) Security : Newton has an App lock feature in iOS whereas Spark doesn’t. So for paranoid or security centric users this is of note.
For Server side email storage both do save some level of information at their end to provide features like Snooze and Push Notifications.
Still because of app lock Newton takes the cake here.

9) Draft Minimize: How many times have you started composing a new email, and after sometime wanted to refer an old mail to get an attachment or as reference.
After creating a new email in Newton you can keep it as Draft or discard it. But there is no way you can minimize it, refer something and come back again to finish the email.
Spark has thought of this and provided a minimize option making composing email a breeze. You can even minimise multiple emails.
Kudoz to Spark on this one, which takes the prize here.

10) Separate emails into Categories: Newton has no Smart Intelligence to separate emails from each other, something Spark does and does really well. It categorises emails into Inbox, Newsletters and Notifications. It really helps processing emails for people who have hundreds of them coming each day.

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Newsletters and Inbox separated in Spark

11) Natural Language processing: Spark allows creating some smart folders which can behave like filters. Whats interesting is it supports natural language processing like “emails with pdf attachments last week”. Just imagine that functionality.
Spark takes this one like a hawk.

12) Sender Profile: When you receive an email on Newton, tapping on the sender brings up a lot of info about the sender starting with email, company, website etc. This is a premium feature and can be of immense help to people in marketing or business.

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Newton showing sender Email, Website,Summary and even Employee count

Some comparison of features between these two apps :

Newton Spark
Multiple Attachments Y Y
Snooze Y Y
Send Later Y N
Unsubscribe Y N
Undo Send Y Y
Read Receipts Y N
App Lock Y N
Minimize while Composing N Y
Smart Category N Y
Sender Profile Y N
Smart Search N Y

Newton wins in 8/11 items vs Spark 6/11. So our obvious choice is Newton.

OUR CHOICE – NEWTON

But that doesn’t mean Spark is not feature rich. Coming from a well known company “Readdle” who makes one of the best softwares for iOS, its a very strong contender.

Its not a straight answer to say which makes a better choice. If features like send later or sender info is crucial, then Newton will fit you better, but if auto categorise email is important then Spark may be for you now.

Both of these apps are coming up with new features everyday and we never know when the other becomes more promising.

Price can be a deciding factor for people on tight budget or students. Spark is completely free whereas Newton charges 49.99$ yearly which may be a bit of deciding factor. Personally if you email a lot and not sitting in front of computers whole day then 4$ a month seems justifiable. Thats the price of premium coffee or a snack.

So go ahead try the apps by yourself and see which fits you better. I am sure you will like both of them and definitely will stick to either.

Keep Mailing !!
Arindam @ TechDaily

Minimalistic Web Designs going ballistic

Flat Design is going to stay for long, but not so for Minimalist Approach. Don’t get me wrong, I love minimalist designs starting from websites to even products. Even I use a wallet which is small and minimal. Who doesn’t like to have a simple clutter free product.
But the problem comes when this goes to a crazy scale of reducing information, which defeats the whole purpose of simplifying the GUI. 

Designers are coming up with new designs for clean intuitive UI. They are trying to showcase their skills on how clean can a user Interface be. But in all these talent fight, sometimes they are forgetting a basic idea of web design — Usability. The ultimate objective of a website is to have all the information within reach of a user and which can be instantly easy and familiar for someone to use.

The problem with modern websites is that, the information is hidden too much. For an average user, it’s hard to find what he/she is looking for. Digging through enormous menu or too many clicks to find what is needed is a hassle making it irritating for the person. Designers should focus more on the end user than concentrate on what they can achieve in terms of minimization.

But that doesn’t mean we have to be Old School and go back to 90’s designs. Absolutely not. In fact we have fabulous examples of modern websites which have excellent user Interface as well as are intuitive to use.

1) Scalable Grids — Made famous by Microsoft over last couple of years, this is something every tech company is trying to implement. With flat dynamic grids floating, it’s easy to find any info you are looking around. Arrange items as you need them. Windows 10’s success is proof of this. Many tech websites have been using this or similar approach and loved by customers worldwide.


2) Live Photos— Not a very new concept but made popular by Apple, many websites are adopting it for showcasing their products. The moment you scroll to an image, the image changes to a live photo, much like a short video showing some key info to you. It is extremely eye catching and information rich to the end user.


3) Circular View— Pretty much in effect nowadays, this type of front-end makes the user feel more in control. It’s a visual pleasure to look into these designs yet making it instantly familiar and reachable.

4) Sidebar— Probably the most successful approach of this decade. Almost everybody is now familiar with sidebar making it easy to use, show relevancy as well as king of minimal designs.


5) Typography —Typography and large fonts are very much appreciated lately. Fonts can be large and colorful and people seem to fall for it. Using colors and different fonts helps to segregate section and helps users navigate better.


6) Carousal —Still used widely and is a good approach when you want to showcase multiple products in short space. Auto changing carousal help show more in a small section.


7) Accordian —“Clear” app is a classic example of how beautifully even Accordian can be used. Many mobile apps are using accordion for menu section and seems to do the magic.


Also giving a personal touch to a website or highlighting your Brand is important and should be done without any issues. Just try not to mix multiple patterns in a single application. A user should feel he is browsing in the same page when he navigates. Try not to open multiple tabs if possible and re-loading the page for clicks is a strict No No.

Let us know if you think of some new design ideas or use-cases.

Apps every Tech Company should embrace

Smartphones and Tablets have become an integral part of Tech industry. The Tech friendly companies are mostly embracing mobile platforms and means to enhance business reaching clients efficiently and quickly.

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No matter which industry you work or what you manufacture/service, reaching out to clients is a very crucial part of business. Companies who provide better services are undoubtedly more appreciated and preferred. Keeping contact with clients, listening to their problems is important and so is keeping in touch who are working as employees. An organisation who takes care of its employees in long run will do well because its the employees who eventually will take care of clients.

The Distraction and why we need to find ways:

In every corporate industry specially IT industries, emails are becoming more of a distraction then actually making things productive. It takes a lot of time to read and reply emails which in a way takes up a lot of productive hours. Ofcourse we can’t avoid emails but somehow reduce it in a systematic way.

So why not see for other means of effective communication than making everything formal. Why not chat with team members and employees. We all do chat with friends and family right? If a corporate wants the same environment within their organisation then they should start behaving like one.

Chat is an extremely effective way of reaching to employees and colleagues while keeping things informal but productive. Checking emails at 11 pm seems like work but checking chat simply doesn’t. Its effective, efficient, fast, friendly yet productive.

HRs can keep a tab on their employees and build a healthy relationship in chat forms. Having a chat with their teams once in a while looks friendly as well as it gets the job done.

1) Slack: Slack is a very powerful chat tool for teams and corporate environments. It’s a simple place for all your communication. You can upload documents and share with your app without leaving the app. Other can view and comment on that. Every comment or chat will send a push notification helping you to stay on top on things rather than making a mess of never ending emails.
Search is powerful and the app is created with user in mind. Many startups and even big corporate firms have started using Slack as their means of communication with teams and staffs.


2) Trello: A beautiful & unique app which can be used in various ways. You can use it as a to-do app, a one stop for all your key points, a collection base for ideas, a read it later app etc. The UI is clean, simple and stands out among the crowd of hundreds of to do apps.


3) Calendars by Readdle – A calendar app from readdle (only on iOS) which really gets the job done wonderfully. It has nice day view, Week view and Month view as well as task List. But what makes it stand out from other calendar apps is events “color” and “natural language processing”. You can add events and color them just like desktop google Calendar. Adding an event is as simple like typing “Lunch tomorrow at 5PM with Dan in Grand Hyatt Singapore” and see the magic:


Of-course there are other nice calendar apps like “Cal”, “fantastical” and “Sunrise” which are equally good.

  4) Wunderlist: Its actually a reminder app which is really excellent and is available for almost all major platforms (including desktops).

You can create lists and tasks and even invite people on your list. Your team members on the list can comment and add/remove tasks as well as Add files on tasks. It can be effectively used as a single place for all the team’s to-do activities.



5) Dropbox – A cloud based file system used by many corporate organisations and millions of individuals worldwide. For enterprise packages it provides high security and encryption making it ideal for sensitive data files. You can upload files and share link with other members in team making file transfer a breeze. It also maintains file versions as well as allowing other users (invited) to comment on files. Individual files can be made available for offline viewing on mobile devices.

6) Pushbullet – As the name suggests, this app helps to push texts, images etc from one device to another. Type a message or select a file and send. That simple.


7) Adobe Fill n Sign – An excellent app from adobe which helps people on the fly to sign documents without taking a print out. This app is helpful for people who have to frequently deal with clients on the field. Filling up pdf forms and then getting signature from the client all can be done on your iPad or tablet without taking a printout.

        
8) Evernote – One of the best note taking apps currently in world, available on every platform and device and used by millions worldwide. You can create multiple notebooks and notes inside them. Notes can be searched and tagged easily. A perfect recipe for executives to quickly jot down meeting points and customer discussions. Audio recording is also available. Drawings, texts, audio anything can be added to a note making it an excellent note app.

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9) Office Lens – It can quickly scan documents using the mobile/tablet camera and create pdfs or image files. Very helpful when people need to scan some documents on the fly. After scanning files can of-course be exported or emailed. White board scans are very effective as well as Business card scanning.

By default the files will be stored on One drive. Available for iOS, Android and Windows phone.

                 

10) Microsoft Office – Last but certainly the most important is Microsoft office. The corporate world is incomplete without Microsoft office and its a must have for anyone who needs to create documents, spreadsheets or presentations. Even Apple embraced it in their App Store and presented them as the masters of productivity.

Let us know your favourites !!

By TechDaily24x7

Evernote vs OneNote on iOS/Android

Evernote and OneNote are two mostly widely used professional note taking apps out there. Moreover they exist on all major platforms making it a breeze to sync data across environments.
   

Personally I have been an Evernote user for about 4 yrs now and I love how simple it is to use on mobile platforms. I regularly use the Scannable app to scan my receipts and sync to Evernote. 

Recently I started using OneNote and I am kind of starting to like it. 

There are many blogs online which compares between the two but mostly all of them speak of usage on Laptops or Macs. The experience which I am going to share is restricted to mobile devices because many people use these apps on their smart phones and tablets.

I have been writing blogs on Evernote for some time now but very recently I am trying it on oneNote. Its a kind of mixed experience I will say.

Major Differences and similarities.

Hierarchy :

The main difference is in hierarchy. Evernote has “Notebooks” which are further divided as “notes”. You can have as many notes within a notebook. Think of the notebooks as category. And notes as individual entities. You can have multiple notebooks say “Personal”,”Medical”, “Office”, “Home” etc.

Each of them can have as many notes as you want.

In a note, you can have text, pictures, checklist, audio, drawings and even files. Its like putting whatever you want on a piece of paper.

Now lets see OneNote. The arrangement is a bit different here. You can create Notebooks and which are further divided into Sections and further into pages. 

So you can have something like : Personal > Vacation > Trip to Singapore where Personal is your notebook, Vacation is a section and “Trip to Singapore” as a page. Page can contain texts, photos, audio, video, checklists and drawings. Even you can insert files.

File Types:

Both are pretty much similar in this context. They support wide range of files and also texts, audio, checklist, drawings and pictures.

Arrangement :

This is where OneNote takes a leap. On ON you can write anywhere on the page. As scattered as you want. This is really useful in meetings or brain storming sessions where you can have ideas floating all over the page. As of now this feature is absent in Evernote. But again this seems limited to tablets and not iPhones (cannot comment on android phones though).

  
Platform:
Both these apps exist on Android, iOS, Web, Windows as well as Mac. But I personally have seen the iOS version is better than the android counterpart. On iOS you can resize the pictures but cannot as of now on Android which is big drawback. On Mac its pretty nice though but PC looks more polished. Undoubtedly it works like a charm on Windows PC and phone.

Price

Both apps come free but Evernote has a “Plus” and “Premium” plans for heavy users and offers features like “offline notebooks” and password protection which are absent in free version. Also free version is limited to 60MB per month. 

  
OneNote is completey free and the space depends on your OneDrive space. So if you are a heavy user ON suits better for sure.

 Integration

Both apps can be integrated with many 3rd party apps but since Evernote has been a long runner on mobiles, it has more integrations. Its supported by tons of major apps as well as some blogging apps.

Watch Support:

If you are a fan of Apple watch, then you should be happy that both the above apps support Apple Watch. 

  
 

Overall UI experience:

Going strictly with mobile platforms its very tough to say. I liked the Evernote experience on Android better than iOS counerpart but the same is reverse for OneNote whose iOS is much more polished and with more features.

So in my perspective for long writings and scans (with Scannable) Evernote seems a decent choice, though ON also will work just fine. But for Brainstorming, meetings and floating ideas OneNote is the king. Moreover oneNote is integrated with OneDrive making syncing and integration easy.
Let us know which suits you best and why. 

Secure your digital assets – A guide by @rindam


If you are not living under a rock then probably you have a few dozen login credentials to remember which may be email Id credentials, facebook, twitter, cloud credentials, bank accounts, credit cards, social security numbers, loyalty card details, locker numbers etc. Keeping a track of all these usernames, passwords or numbers can be really annoying and hard.

It’s a problem we all have but are too reluctant to look into it. People in general have an attitude of ignoring this problem and assuming that for some unknown reason they are free from being hacked. It’s time we should start worrying about our online world as much as we care about real life assets.
Banking or Identity fraud happens every day with someone or the other. So it’s better to be careful now that repent later. Here are few tips and how you can keep your digital life safe.

Remembering Everything — Remembering passwords is something many people do. Remember all your account details, passwords and anything that you might need on the fly. But the problem lies here is that not all of us are Einstein and hence remembering a few dozen passwords is a tough call. To simplify this most people keep plain passwords like 12345678, or keep a single password for all their logins.

NEVER keep same password in your accounts, NEVER do that. Did I say NEVER?

If you keep same password across all your accounts, and if one is hacked so will be the others. Always always and always have separate, unique & strong passwords for each of your logins. And please don’t keep passwords like 12345678. Keep strong, long and unique passwords. Your password should be something like this : Jg67$@5@38DOp77 (just an example).

Keeping a simple readable password is almost as bad as no password.

 

Use 2 Factor Authentication —Most online accounts now offer 2 Factor Authentication. Never heard of? No problem. It’s a simple concept where you need a 2nd information to login other than your user name or password. Say when you enable 2FA in Google, other than your username & password, you will also need a code which Google will send to your registered phone number (or you can use a Authentication App). Many other services have a hard token for generating codes. There are apps for offline generating tokens also (Google/Dropbox/Facebook all have support for them). Hence even if someone knows your password, he/she cannot login without the second code or sms OTP making it much more secured. So its intelligent to enable 2 factor authentication in all your accounts. Good authenticator apps include Google Authenticator, FreeOTP by Redhat, SAASPAAS etc. Make sure that after enabling 2FA, generate backup codes from respective services.

Writing down passwords – For multiple unique complicated passwords, writing down on a paper and keeping it safe is what many do. For people who wants security over convenience this is probably the safest way. Write all your passwords in a piece of paper and keep it safe in your home. When you change a password just update that. It’s local, with you and always safe (till someone snoops into your house and steals it — we won’t discuss that of course).

Browser Save Option — Most common approach probably is to remember passwords within browser.
This is pretty convenient for logins and easy to use. But the only problem is since you don’t remember the passwords anymore, if you want to login somewhere else other than your home PC/mac/phone, it becomes a problem.

Use an Online Password Storage Solution — There are many apps for online cloud based secured password storage. The concept is simple. You register and create an account in their system (just like you create email or social accounts). Once done, login and store your credentials there. The data is stored in their servers or locally in Encrypted form. Typically most of them use AES 128/256 encryption which is almost full proof and very very tough to crack (practically impossible). For encryption you need to provide a KEY, which is something you and only you have. The key is not stored anywhere in their servers and is only with the account user which gives a piece of mind. This is definitely a very secured approach and helps not only to keep your passwords and credentials secured, safe and always available but also in one click logins (either they have browser extension or apps on ios/android).
Since most come with multi-platform apps so the data is synced across devices (encrypted ofcourse). This is a nice approach for people who own multiple devices and login many times to different accounts from multiple locations or gadgets.

If this is good enough for you, try LastPass or DashLane. Both are pretty solid password managers and have a nice track record, universally used and accepted.

Store Passwords Offline — If you have problems with Cloud and Secured words coming together, for sure you are not alone. No matter what algorithm are used or how secured the servers are, end of the day you are still putting the data on someone else’s hand just based on trust and some mathematics. Why not keep it safe and local which never leaves the device. Ideal for people who are not comfortable with their data in cloud. Though locally doesn’t necessarily means safe. You either have to stick to one device or sync via wifi/cloud solutions. If its in one device, lost device means lost digital world. Anyway coming back to offline password managers.

There are two ways of offline password storages — put all your passwords in a file and keep it in your system or external drive/flash drive. Make sure it’s safe and with you. Better encrypt that file or password protect the file and store it just to be safe if the device/drive is stolen. But this approach will again bring up the problem of syncing and changing passwords, updating etc.

Here 1Password smartly solves the problem. How about data being stored only and only in your device and yet can sync to multiple platforms seamlessly. Sound amazing? Thanks to 1Password we have something like this.

The app is available for ios, android, Mac and Windows too. It doesn’t store your data on any server (though they have Account options now).

All your data is local and stored within the app in your device encrypted using a Master password (which only you know and never saved on server). In short the data never leaves your device if you don’t want it to. Even if the data is stolen without the Master password no one can open it. For someone to steal your credentials, the person has to steal your device, unlock it with device passkey and then know the Master password for the app.

Here is what they have to say about security https://guides.agilebits.com/lpasswordwindows/l/en/topic/security-lpl-win

Now how will you sync the data? Well syncing can be done on Wifi between multiple devices. Again the data never leaves home wifi network. Lastly you can also sync the data with help of dropbox (only the encrypted data is uploaded). 1Password link

Personally I love how 1Password is designed and since the data is always local, it’s a solid choice for millions of people around globe. 1Password is slowly becoming a leader of password management and I hope they keep doing it better every day.

There is nothing absolutely Full Proof in the world but it’s better to stay as safe as possible. It’s high time we should take care of our digital assets. Stay Safe !!

– Arindam for TechDaily24*7