The final chapter to Mat Honan’s hacking →

This time, he explains how he recovered his data (especially how much it cost him…). He tells the problems he encountered trying to get hold of his Gmail and Twitter accounts, etc.

It is instructive and full of advice for anyone.

The excerpt that concerned me the most was about 1Password. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and have replaced many of my passwords by long strings of randomly generated characters. These passwords are so complicated that I can’t remember them and I have a different one for each service. As long as I am on my laptop everything is fine. However, when I switch to another computer, I can’t access anything.

I definitely understood Honan’s bigger problem:

I’m a heavy 1Password user. I use it for everything. That means most of my passwords are long, alphanumeric strings of gibberish with random symbols. It’s on my iPhone, iPad and Macbook. It syncs up across all those devices because I store the keychain in the cloud on Dropbox. Update a password on my phone, and the file is saved on Dropbox, where my computer will pull it down later, and vice versa.

But I didn’t have it on any of our other systems. So now I couldn’t get to my keychain. And so I was stuck in a catch-22. My Dropbox password was itself a 1password-generated litany of nonsense. Without access to Dropbox, I couldn’t get my keychain. Without my keychain, I couldn’t get into Dropbox.

For most of the services I use (Last.fm, Twitter, Instapaper, etc.) I’ll continue to use 1Password and complicated passwords. I can wait to come back to my laptop to use them. However, I’ll need to find another solution for services I need to access anywhere (email and Skydrive mostly). I think I’ll change my current passwords, for a long memorable mash-up of meaningful-to-me information.

Passwords are a problem. They need a solution.