TeamPassword: testing a Startup Weekend-winning password manager [DISCOUNT] - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Jul. 9, 2013 8:30 am

TeamPassword: testing a Startup Weekend-winning password manager [DISCOUNT]

For $7 a month, we found it reasonable to sign up for TeamPassword’s “Mini” plan, and we did so, really, because we hadn’t tried any other password managers before TeamPassword.
The scene at Baltimore Startup Weekend in September 2012 (where TeamPassword was born).

The scene at Baltimore Startup Weekend in September 2012 (where TeamPassword was born).

(File photo)

Update 7/9/13 1:53 p.m.: Included additional line of explanation about Andrew Stroup's leaving TeamPassword.

Prior to using TeamPassword, Technically Baltimore hadn’t used a password manager.

That’s despite our knowing what they are: an expedient way to create long, complex passwords — that are, in turn, harder for hackers to crack — and then store them with encryption. Instead of remembering many strong passwords, you only have to remember one, for the service itself.

TeamPassword formed during Baltimore’s last Startup Weekend in September 2012 and took first place from the judges. Two of the three founding members are still with the startup. (The third member, Andrew Stroup, parted ways with TeamPassword and launched his own password manager, CommonKey, in May. Shortly after Startup Weekend, according to TeamPassword, Stroup and TeamPassword parted over a difference in vision for the product they hoped to create.)

When TeamPassword launched version two of its password manager this spring, cofounder Brian Sierakowski, whose day job is with software development company SmartLogic Solutions, contacted this Technically Baltimore reporter with a proposition: try it out, and let us know if you think it sucks.

TeamPasswordDashboard

The TeamPassword dashboard.

Below is our modest assessment, but let’s cut to the chase. After a week and a half of using TeamPassword, we were pleased, and therefore signed up for the smallest option offered, which allows us to store our passwords (and share them with two other people if we choose) for $7 a month.

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How it Works

  • Each new password added to the dashboard comes with different options:
    • Title: to signify what the password is for.
    • Login URL: of the website that requires the password.
    • Username: username or e-mail address required for login.
    • Password: the password, with the option to display the password text
    • Notes: maybe you’d like to keep a log of dates whenever you change your password, for instance.

Sharing is the key feature, and the reason 50 companies in Baltimore and elsewhere have signed up for TeamPassword.

  • Passwords for accounts accessed by multiple company employees can be administered within TeamPassword by one person, who then has the option to share that password with others in the company. If the password needs to be changed, no longer is an e-mail necessary to alert everyone of the new password. If someone with access to the password is fired, simply change the password within TeamPassword to prevent the fired employee from gaining access.
TeamPasswordGroups

Create groups to quickly and easily share passwords with multiple people.

Usability

TeamPasswordChromeExtensionWe weren’t yelling at the screen trying to figure out how to enter in new passwords, as the user interface of the back-end dashboard is fairly intuitive. Really, TeamPassword works best in its Google Chrome extension form. When we go to pay our credit card bill, we just type the URL into Chrome, open up the TeamPassword extension, and the web app generally detects what website we’re visiting and what password we’ll need, and highlights it at the top of the list of passwords.

As of right now, TeamPassword is available only as a Chrome extension, but Sierakowski said plans are in the works to make desktop applications for Windows and Mac computers.

And, yes, this reporter is signed up on a site called Bespoke Post.

Security

Passwords stored in TeamPassword are secured using symmetrical and asymmetrical encryption, which allows for the sharing of passwords without allowing anyone, including TeamPassword, access to the passwords themselves. Sierakowski explained by e-mail:

“Each password stored in our system is locked with a key unique to each user who has access, which we can’t determine, and the database is also encrypted through several measures that only give the TeamPassword application access. The data is transmitted over HTTPS (like a bank).”

And even if a hacker were looking at that transmission, the “data is still encrypted, so the attacker would need to beat HTTPS and also have the user’s private key,” said Sierakowski.

In other words, the secret keys containing your passwords are only encrypted and decrypted on your personal computer. To steal your passwords, a hacker would need your private key. Don’t give your computer to hackers.

Cost

Individual users in need of a password manager might consider LastPass, since LastPass offers similar features at no charge and can be used on multiple browsers and computers. And local competitor CommonKey makes its password manager free to individual users as well.

The real sticking point for TeamPassword is with organizations: for medium-size companies with 50 employees, the startup’s “Large” plan will allow you to share passwords for $50 a month.

For $7 a month, however, we found it reasonable to sign up for TeamPassword’s “Mini” plan, and we did so, really, because we hadn’t tried any other password managers before TeamPassword. Once we had imported all our password information into TeamPassword, the opportunity cost of the time it would take to transfer that information to a similar service, even a free one, outweighed the monthly fee.

To that end, the most impressive thing about TeamPassword is their understanding of behavioral psychology a la Bing behavioral scientist Matt Wallaert. The service is neither complicated nor confusing, serves a valuable function for users, and the cost — at least for us — wasn’t prohibitive enough to go elsewhere.

Want to try out TeamPassword?

  • Use the code “TechnicallyBaltimore” at signup to receive one month free, plus three additional months at 50 percent off.
  • Or use the code “TechnicallyBaltimore13″ at signup to receive a one-month trial, and then one month free.

Both coupons expire at the end of this month.

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