It’s the nightmare of any traveler: You disconnect on the flight, and after you land, discover you’ve been hacked. Or, perhaps you simply don’t want to travel with absolutely everything potentially accessible on your gear, in case it gets lost or disappears out of your pocket. So 1Password has a simple, intuitive solution for travelers: A travel mode in which everyone, even you, is locked out of everything but the necessities.
1Password, if you’re unfamiliar, is software that lets you organize your passwords into “vaults” that only unlock with a master password. That password, and your password file, however, are heavily encrypted “end-to-end.” What that means is that before you send even a single bit, your password is encrypted, and it arrives to a server encrypted, as well. Furthermore, 1Password doesn’t store your passwords remotely. Think of it as a more secure and feature-rich version of Google’s password files — without that password, not even you can open your data.
Travel Mode builds off of that by letting you create a vault for travel, where only the passwords you need are stored in the vault. When Travel Mode is turned on, everything else is locked off; not even you can open it, as you have no way to open the encryption. Until you turn Travel Mode off, everything is locked down.
Here’s what this looks like, via Boing Boing:
Let’s say I had an upcoming trip for a technology conference in San Jose. I hear the apples are especially delicious over there this time of year. :) Before Travel Mode, I would have had to sign out of all my 1Password accounts on all my devices. If I needed certain passwords with me, I had to create a temporary travel account. It was a lot of work and not worth it for most people.
Now all I have to do is make sure any of the items I need for travel are in a single vault. I then sign in to my account on 1Password.com, mark that vault as “safe for travel,” and turn on Travel Mode in my profile. I unlock 1Password on my devices so the vaults are removed, and I’m now ready for my trip. Off I go from sunny Winnipeg to hopefully-sunnier San Jose, ready to cross the border knowing that my iPhone and my Mac no longer contain the vast majority of my sensitive information.
After I arrive at my destination, I can sign in again and turn off Travel Mode. The vaults immediately show up on my devices, and I’m back in business.
The basic idea is to protect you from hackers, but an unspoken aspect of this is that increasingly, travelers at borders are facing demands that they turn over access to their phones, laptops, and even social media accounts, creating thorny legal issues for those with sensitive work data on their devices, or those who’d simply prefer not to have a total stranger swiping through their Facebook feed. Although BoingBoing points out you could still be required to fork over your master password, this at least creates another layer of security and makes it difficult to breach your phone without your consent.
If that’s not enough protection and you have someone trustworthy in mind, you can also use the “teams” option, which will allow you to give access to your passwords to another person who can lock and unlock your passwords remotely. (Just make sure that it’s someone who won’t be compromised.)
Travel is stressful enough without worrying about your accounts. If you just want to get in the air and not worry about it, you finally have a solution.