On Monday, Symantec pulled the plug on its NDA early and revealed Norton Identity Safe, an extremely handy tool for the PC, Mac and mobile devices that stores user names and passwords in the cloud for free. This eliminates the need of keeping physical lists or using the same password for multiple websites and services.
"Recent Norton research found that 70 percent of people have forgotten a password in the past month," Symantec said on Monday. "That may explain why people often resort to using weak passwords based on their pet’s name, family member’s name or birthday. However, this puts consumers at risk of identity theft and loss of personal information when a hacker cracks one obvious password and gains access to all of their accounts. Others keep a physical list of passwords at home – not much use for the 48 percent of people who access online accounts on-the-go from their mobile device."
According to Symantec, Norton Identity Safe synchronizes information across platforms and devices, eliminating the need to remember multiple user names, passwords, contact information, and credit card numbers. It also allows users to access their credentials anywhere they go, and helps consumers protect their identities and avoid potentially risky sites by letting them know whether a site is safe to visit directly from their search results. Even more, it allows users to safely share online content by sending URLs through email and social networking plugins, directly from Norton Identity Safe.
"Too often, people turn to bad password habits – using the same easy password for all of their accounts or writing down a list of passwords and taping it to the computer," said Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. "Even though passwords have been around for a long time, the sheer number we all have to remember is constantly increasing. Norton Identity Safe is a simple, secure way to keep track of your personal information, no matter where you go or what device you use."
Norton Identity Safe is now available for PCs, Mac computers, iOS devices such as iPhone and iPad, and Android devices. Download the software by October 1, 2012 and get the service free of charge forever. No strings attached. Why? Because the firm is probably trying to eliminate the current personal info theft crisis caused by stolen passwords and user names, offering a free cloud-based storage solution to help eliminate the problem. The only worry consumers would seemingly have now is whether their info is protected if Symantec's servers were ever breached.
Yet there is a small catch: Web surfers interested in using this service must create a Norton account. After that, they must also create a separate master password for the "online vault" containing all the login info. "It's critical that you don't forget this password, because we won't store it and won't be able to retrieve it for you," Symantec warns during installation. Guess we need another password manager to keep track of the password manager?
In Firefox, Symantec's tool appears as a toolbar (like we need more of those). It automatically saves information entered into login screens such as Facebook, Twitter and other sites, and displays a notification that the info is stored in the cloud. The toolbar also contains an Internet search field, a Home button leading to a Symantec page with shortcut tiles, a Share button for sharing links on various sites, and a Vault button for editing settings and more. Even more, the toolbar will insert a "Norton Secured" icon next to search results as Symantec claims, indicating that a link has been tested and approved by Symantec.