Thursday, October 1, 2020

Why a password manager like KeyReel is essential for business and leisure travel

By Joanne Shurvell, Travel writer

Like most journalists, I travel with multiple devices including an iPhone, laptop and iPad and, until recently, I made little attempt to protect my personal data, leaving me an easy target for cybercriminals. After hearing about a new password manager, KeyReel, I discovered a few simple things I could do to be more secure when traveling.

The only essential security measure I was taking was to ensure that my phone was locked using a PIN number and fingerprint ID. Like many non-techie travelers, I had no idea that it’s also vital to check that your operating system is up to date on all your devices. An out-of-date operating system is a major security risk and an open invitation to hackers.

Another essential step is to install anti-virus protection to keep your personal and business information secure while traveling. According to Bojan Jovanovic, of DataProt, only half of mobile devices in the United States have some kind of antivirus protection.

Although I had a sneaking feeling that it’s not a great idea to use free WiFi hotspots in a city you travel, it’s always so tempting. But these networks aren’t always secure. Don’t use unencrypted WiFi networks and if you do use free WiFi hotspots, try not to access highly personal sites like your bank accounts. The same goes for bluetooth on your phone; if you leave it permanently on, cyberthieves could hack your device.

But perhaps the best advice I’ve received recently is that crucial for your cybersafety, both at home and while traveling, is a password manager — an impenetrable “vault” that stores your passwords. It’s among the most significant thing you can do, besides two-factor authentication, to keep your online data safe. Managing secure passwords for all your online accounts on all your devices, demands a good memory, to say the least. Every website requires passwords to include numbers or special characters to make passwords more secure but also making them even more difficult to memorize. With data breaches on the rise, using the same password on multiple sites is a huge risk. If you do use the same password repeatedly, once hacked, all sites using that password are hacked.

A password manager stores your login details for the websites, apps and other services you use in a secure, encrypted form. Once that is set up, the only password you need to remember is the one for the password manager itself that, once entered, unlocks your vault of passwords, allowing access to any of your sites or apps with a single click.

The best known online password managers like 1Password, Dashlane and Lastpass use the Cloud for storage and they keep encrypted copies of your password vault on their own servers. Although KeyReel’s Oleksandr Senyuk, who has an extensive background working with Cloud companies, says the Cloud itself is not insecure, he does say that there is a risk that cybercriminals can breach a cloud-based service. This risk is small but there is a risk nonetheless because criminals are known to put a huge amount of effort trying to hack cloud-based password managers. This is why Mr Senyuk created KeyReel, a “local” password management system, the first of its kind to store and sync your "vault" of passwords and other sensitive information on your own devices without using cloud servers. Your phone becomes a smart security system.

The Keyreel app encrypts and stores all of your passwords on your android or i-Phone without transferring them back and forth to a cloud, thus protecting them from cybersecurity threats. Even the FBI failed to hack the 256-AES military-grade encryption they use to protect their customers’ data.

KeyReel’s founder says he is on a mission “to make Keyreel work for everyone, so you don’t have to be an IT professional to have essential protection.” For starters, KeyReel allows you to easily store your passwords in a “vault” on your phone for free. Considering many people store their passwords in a very insecure standard memo app on their phone, this seems like an essential, minimum security step. If you feel comfortable with that level of tech, you can progress to the more sophisticated paid service.

It is so important to understand that although digitalization has brought untold benefits to our lives, it has also created many risks so it’s crucial to keep up with the latest IT security developments, especially when we’re traveling and using WiFi access points, a favorite target for cybercriminals. I’m more cautious with my digital security when traveling now and my new KeyReel app on my phone is a big part of that.