iPhone app spotlight: SecureSafe

Several thousand iPhone and iPad owners download SecureSafe weekly, DSwiss claims

Somewhere on your iPhone is a list of your passwords. They might be stored in a Word doc in Quickoffice or on a page in Notes. Maybe you think you're clever by putting them under a pseudonym in your Contacts list.

Given today's plethora of work and personal Websites demanding passwords, not to mention the varying requirements for those passwords, you probably have a list somewhere-and hackers know this. You just can't keep all of your passwords straight in your head, recalling a certain password once every few months.

The App Store is chock full of password-protection apps, but one of the most popular is SecureSafe developed by DSwiss AG, headquartered in Zurich. The app lets you store passwords, documents and, recently, photos, in a secure folder system in the app. It's free up to 50 passwords and 10MB, followed by a tiered pricing scheme based on storage: $1.50 per month for unlimited passwords and 100MB; $4.30 for 5GB; $12.90 for 25GB.

Several thousand iPhone and iPad owners download SecureSafe weekly, DSwiss claims. Moreover, DSwiss is working with several major Swiss banks to offer SecureSafe to their customers, as a kind of online vault for their digital assets. Insurance companies are also interested in SecureSafe, says DSwiss.

The iPhone app is super easy to use. All your protected passwords, documents and pictures reside on SecureSafe servers, as opposed to locally on the iPhone. While you can't search for passwords, the related titles are listed in alphabetical order. In each entry, you can input username, password, URL and comments. The URL is important given all the phishing sites out there.

You can easily add passwords into SecureSafe directly from the iPhone app. You can also take pictures using a camera feature inside the app to be stored in SecureSafe. Pictures taken in this way won't appear on the iPhone's camera roll or stored locally on the device.

Although it's mostly used to store passwords, SecureSafe is also used to store photos and documents. But here is where the app has a messy problem: When it comes to adding existing photos from the iPhone camera roll or Word documents stored locally on the iPhone to SecureSafe, things get tricky.

Existing pictures and documents must be uploaded to SecureSafe over its Web site, www.securesafe.com. They can't be added (or deleted) directly from within the iPhone app. Even worse, the Web site is driven by Flash. As you know, iPhone Safari doesn't support Flash.

This means you'll have to move pictures and documents from the iPhone (or iPad) to a Mac or PC, in order to use the desktop browser and upload the content to SecureSafe servers for viewing on the SecureSafe iPhone app. Given that Apple and its iCloud strategy wants to help iOS users cut the desktop cord, this extra step doesn't make much sense.

A spokesperson says the company is developing the SecureSafe app so files can be uploaded directly from the iPhone and plans to make this enhancement available in Q1 of 2012.

While DSwiss still has to work out some of the kinks in the management of documents, pictures and possibly video down the road-especially if it wants to get people to store more content and move up the tiered-pricing ladder-the app accomplishes its most important goal: storing passwords securely.

Bottom line: SecureSafe is a good app to keep track of your passwords on your iPhone, with the added benefit of securing documents and pictures.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at tkanshige@cio.com

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