I have a confession: for a long time my passwords probably weren’t as secure as they should have been. With personal accounts at over 60 websites, it was tough to manage them properly — not to mention all of the accounts I have for my clients. In short, I wasn’t managing secure data properly. Then my friend told me about Dashlane, a cross platform password manager with an Android client.
More Than Passwords
“Password manager” is actually a little unfair to Dashlane, as it does much more than that. The term they use on their website is “personal data vault.” This is a much better description because on top of passwords, you can manage contact info, payment information, notes, receipts, and more.
I should note that Rita mentioned this to me about 6 months ago but I felt it wasn’t ready for primetime. I decided to revisit it when my friend recommended it and was very pleasently surprised.
Getting started with Dashlane is easy; just login or create an account using the screen above. Once you login you’ll get prompted for a PIN so you don’t need to keep entering your password. Then you can access the great features Dashlane has to offer. We will look at all of that and more, but first, I think it’s important to know how an app like this works, specifically since you’re entrusting it with your most sensitive data.
How DOES It Work?
If you are really interested in exactly how Dashlane works, the company offers a Security White Paper available with all of the gory details, but here are the Cliff’s Notes.
When you create a Dashlane account, you create a Master Password that only you know; this password will also be the decryption key for all of your data. That key is encrypted and stored so no one, not even Dashlane, has access to it. When you add something to Dashlane, it’s encrypted using that key and AES-256 Encryption, then sent to Dashlane’s servers securely.
AES-256 Encryption has never been cracked and is the type of encryption used by the US military, US government, and financial institutions. I hear it’s pretty good.
When you retrieve your data, it’s sent from Dashlane’s server to a native client — whether it be for Android, PC, Mac, and so on — and then, and only then, decrypted using your Master Password/Key. In short, DO NOT lose that password. You will be out of luck if you do because no one else knows it.
Now that we know how Dashlane works, let’s see what it can do!
Logins and Passwords
Let’s start here since that is what attracted me to Dashlane in the first place. Dashlane will keep a list of every account you choose to add; and using the desktop app/Chrome extension, it’s very easy to add your login information for more accounts. The extension/desktop app will even generate strong passwords for you. It’s very cool.
You can scroll or search this list of logins. Selecting an entry will bring you to the respective information for that site.
On a single site screen, you can view and edit the data. And by pressing the lock icon next to the password field, then long-pressing the password, Dashlane will automatically copy the password for you to paste elsewhere.
I will say that the desktop app is a lot more powerful in this regard. It will not only let you view and edit your information, but also show your password’s strength, how many repeats you have (based on the encrypted text, not the actual password) and make it very easy to change these repeats via a Security Dashboard. This feature has actually encouraged me to really ensure my passwords are secure and unique; I wish it was in the Android App.
Aside from passwords, you can store a whole slew of personal data in Dashlane, from IDs to Payment Information to Notes.
Dashlane will let you store several “identities” for you to use across various websites. These identities include full name, date of birth, and username.
Dashlane will then use this information (on the desktop) to log you into your websites, automatically fill out forms, and more. You can also store multiple addresses, emails, companies, websites, and phone numbers. On the desktop app this makes filling out forms a breeze. On the phone it serves as a great reference. I can definitely see, once it becomes a bit more popular, Dashlane adding the ability to send data phone-to-phone using NFC.
On the same token as contact information, you can also store IDs in Dashlane.
If you need a convenient place for your Driver’s Licence, Password info, or even Social Security Number (SSN), you can keep it all in Dashlane. While storing your SSN anywhere probably isn’t the best idea in the world, Dashlane is definitely a better alternative to carrying the card around with you.
You can also add all kinds of financial information in Dashlane, including credit cards, bank statements, and Paypal. Again, this info is much more useful on the desktop where the Chrome extension will automatically fill out forms for you, but on the app it serves as a really good reference, especially if you don’t always carry a check on you or forget your wallet.
One payment feature I do wish the app had is order receipts. When you order something online on your computer, Dashlane will automatically store the receipt for later reference in a section called Purchases. This information isn’t accessible anywhere in the Android app.
Finally, one of my favorite features of Dashlane is the Secure Notes. There is some miscellaneous data that I need to store securely, like client FTP info, software codes, IDs, and other information that I’d otherwise like to keep protected. Dashlane Secure Notes is perfect for that.
While all notes are encrypted and stored, you can choose an extra layer of protection with certain notes and require your Master Password to be typed before viewing the note. You can even color-code notes. I’m really glad to see that this section is complete when compared to the desktop; you don’t lose any functionality on the Android app.
Dashlane is a really great app and perfect for storing sensitive personal data. While it gets a lot of publicity for its password management skills, the ability to keep other information like banking/credit card info and secure notes really puts this app over the top. It’s also come a long way since I first looked at it back in October.
While there are some features I’d like added, such as Purchases and the Security Dashboard, I would strongly recommend Dashlane to anyone who needs to manage sensitive data.