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Forget About It


RoboForm Remembers Online Passwords and More



 Bonnie  Biafore During an invigorating session of Web surfing, you might log in to dozens of online accounts. Optimists believe they can remember all their logins and use different combinations of user names and passwords. Realists often store login information in a spreadsheet or text file but then have to open the file and copy the characters online. Once you’re in, you’ll also have to type the billing and shipping address, credit card number and so on if you buy something. A program that automatically logs you in to favorite sites and fills in personal information can save tons of time.

RoboForm (current version: 6.9) is the hands-down favorite with more than 14 million downloads from CNET.. You can store personal information — user names, passwords, name, address, e-mail address, phone numbers, credit cards numbers, bank account numbers and more — in RoboForm. Then, when you surf to a password-protected site or a webpage with an online form, the program can automatically log in and fill in forms.
   
Letting RoboForm do that also can protect you from some key-logging programs that capture the keystrokes you type and send them to someone else (see “Web Watch,” November 2009). This is because RoboForm does its thing without using a keyboard.
   
You’ll be entrusting the program with your valuable information, so it’s important to know about its encryption methods. A master password that you choose lets you access the information. RoboForm’s encryption algorithm provides 128-bit encryption if you create a password of 32 characters or less. For 256-bit encryption, think up one with 48 or more characters.
   
Note that RoboForm is available for Windows only. For a similar program for Macs, check out 1Passwd, which Macworld magazine rated 4.5 out of 5.

Creating Your RoboForm Identity

What RoboForm calls an identity is its secure record for all your personal information (see screen capture, this page). To create an identity, click on the RoboForm icon in your Windows system tray and choose Identities, then New. In the New Identity dialogue box, type a name for the identity, then select OK. You can create a different identity for each person who uses your computer.
   
With your identity in place, RoboForm can fill in fields on any webpage. The program reads the code for the page to figure out where to enter values. If you have more than one identity, open the webpage first, then go to the RoboForm toolbar. Choose the identity you want to use and select Fill & Submit on the drop-down menu (see screen capture, below). 



Saving User Names and Logins

In RoboForm, passcards store website addresses and the user names and passwords you use to log in to them. If you create a new user name and password on a website, RoboForm will ask if you want to save that information.
   
To create a passcard for an existing login:

•  Open the login page on the website you want.
•  Fill in the login information, but don’t click on the Login button yet.
•  Go to RoboForm’s toolbar and select Save.
•  In the Save Forms dialogue box, type a name for the passcard; for example, kayak for the login to the Kayak.com website.
•  To protect your login information — on financial institution sites, for instance — click on the Password Protect box. Whenever you want to log in to that site, you must type your RoboForm master password first.
•  Click on Save.
   
To surf to a website associated with a passcard, choose Logins on the RoboForm toolbar, then choose the passcard on the drop-down menu. RoboForm automatically navigates to the site, fills in your user name and password, then clicks the Login or Submit button.

Generating Passwords

Another helpful security feature is the password generator. Because RoboForm remembers passwords, you can use strong ones of any length without taxing your memory. On the toolbar, select Generate. RoboForm automatically turns on the check boxes labeled A–Z, a–z and 0–9, so the password will contain numbers and upper- and lowercase letters. To include punctuation, turn on the fourth check box and choose what you want. After RoboForm generates the password, copy it to the clipboard so that you can paste it in a new password box online.
   
You can try RoboForm for free by downloading it from CNET or the RoboForm website. The free version stores only 10 logins, but you can use it for as long as you’d like. RoboForm Pro ($29.95) stores an unlimited number of logins.
   
RoboForm2Go ($9.99) is a program you install on a flash drive. It starts up when you plug in the drive to any computer and, as on your home computer, fills in login and personal information. Unplug the flash drive and your information is still safely stored on the drive, not on the computer you used. RoboForm also offers versions of the program for Palms, BlackBerrys, Symbian phones and mobile phones running Windows Mobile.

Link of the Month

What if you were in an accident and unconscious when the emergency medical technicians arrived? How would they find out about the medications you take, your allergies or medical conditions and who your doctors are? Similar to medical bracelets, My Personal Wishes can store medical and other personal information online. Health care professionals can then log in and get what they need to carry out the proper treatments and your requests.
   
With My Personal Wishes, your online record can also contain family and emergency contacts; records for children, adult dependents and pets; and even documents such as a health care power of attorney, living will or organ donor wishes. Set up a public password for your My Personal Wishes file and carry your member number and the public password with you at all times. The service carries a $25 initial fee and costs $25 per year.


Bonnie Biafore is the author of 24 books about investing, personal finance, project management, software (such as QuickBooks and Project) and the recently published novel, Fresh Squeezed. Go to BonnieBiafore.com to learn more.



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