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This app has your passwords on lock
David Suggitt sees the naivete of his otherwise savvy clients when it comes to cybersecurity.
Suggitt, head of Suggitt Technical Creative IP, in Calgary, Alberta, recalls watching helplessly as one of his longtime clients — a semiretired Vancouver architect weakened by diabetes and terminal cancer — resisted using hard-to-crack passwords for his accounts because they were too difficult for him to type and remember.
The architect ended up being hacked and shut out of his emails for a week, denying him access to his contacts, correspondence and legal documents. The hacker-hijackers changed the passwords after gaining access to the accounts.
“It was entirely preventable and very emotionally draining for him in his weakened condition,” Suggitt says of his client. “He didn’t know if he could ever access his accounts again and he didn’t know what the hijackers were doing with the information.”
Suggitt helped the architect regain access to his accounts, and then guided him to create a password strategy with a cloud-based password vault called Keeper — created by West Loop-based Keeper Security.
The final step was enabling the architect to store his master password with his estate documents so his family could access them when he died six months later.
Such cyber nightmares are growing more common. While 89 percent of U.S. adults online say they secure their digital information, 55 percent don’t always check to see if a website is secure before shopping on it and 63 percent don’t use a unique password for each of their online accounts, according to a new survey by credit bureau Experian.
A separate survey by staffing firm Modis reveals Americans are most concerned about having their online banking information leaked or publicized.
Despite a dizzying array of choices for cybersecurity solutions, Suggitt swears by Keeper because it lets him use a master password to access all of his accounts at once and manages and secures everything from his online bank account to his YouTube sign-in.
A Keeper user logs into the account, types in a password and gets a six-digit time-based code from an authenticator app on his mobile device. The optional second security code provides an extra security layer.
The two-factor authenticator is a free app provided by Google. Keeper also saves time by being integrated with Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers.
Keeper stores passwords for any device on any tech platform, whether it’s Android, iOS, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone on smartphones, tablets and computers (includes Mac, PC and Linux). Keeper also runs in Web browsers including Chrome, Safari and Firefox. The premium version costs $9.99 a year per device and includes secure cloud storage, sync, backup and sharing. There’s also a stripped-down free version.
Keeper Security has 31 employees, and is hiring more in sales, business development, software development and support.
Keeper, published in 16 languages and claiming “millions” of users in more than 70 countries, says its paid user base has more than quadrupled in the past three years. The company also says it gets a new user every 11 seconds, despite having several rivals who’ve been around longer, including 1password, Lastpass and Dashlane.
The secret to Keeper “coming out of nowhere,” as CEO and co-founder Darren Guccione says, was an early recognition that smartphones and tablets would become the convergence devices of the future.
“Most product offerings in the space at that time were focused on the PC,” Guccione says. “We created the best possible user experience for the smartphone first and then branched out to other devices from there.”
Keeper also boasts its security.
“We strive to be more secure than a bank,” says Guccione, a Buffalo Grove native who personally funded Keeper. (Fifteen years ago, he and co-founder Craig Lurey started Apollo Solutions, one of the first online e-commerce systems for buying and selling computer products on the Web.)
Experts say Keeper and its rivals face hurdles, from people preferring to keep a list of their passwords on a sheet of paper tucked away at home, to big-name companies such as Google and Apple safeguarding their users’ master passwords.
Another challenge is security, since cloud-based services are prime targets for hackers, says Richard Stiennon, an IT industry expert at IT-Harvest security research firm who spoke at the SC Congress cybersecurity expo in Chicago last week.
“It is an arms race as companies allow sites to recognize passwords,” he says.
ABOVE: Keeper CEO Darren Guccione