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F-Secure Key: An excessively simple password manager for absolute beginners

Yaara Lancet | Jan. 17, 2014
Slick and straightforward, F-Secure KEY is a password manager that doesn't bother you with extra features. It stores your passwords, and that's it.

You too need a password manager, and if you're not yet using one, you should. A good password manager makes it simple to securely store your most important information, and access it whenever and wherever you need it. An excellent password manager is both easy to use and secure, with smart cross-platform features that streamline your password usage without compromising your safety. KeePass does this, LastPass does this, and so does Dashlane. The new F-Secure Key's challenge is to do it better.

F-Secure Key (free for basic version, $16/year for Premium) is a new password manager by security company F-Secure. The free PC edition of F-Secure Key — editions for Android, iPhone, and Mac exist as well — is a local one with no online synchronization. The interface is clean and simple, and creating new password entries is intuitive. Importing a database from another manager is also easy enough, providing you know how to export an XML file from your old manager. Similar to other password managers, F-Secure uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256) algorithm for its password encryption.

Each F-Secure Key entry can get one of several dozens of icons, as well as a color code. The password generator can help you with secure passwords of up to 32 characters, using any combination of letters, numbers and symbols. It is, however, limited when compared to other managers. The entire interface, complete with cute little icons and color codes, is visually pleasing, but unfortunately, there's no way to use these icons or colors to your advantage. Your password list is searchable by keyword, but you can't filter out a color or a certain icon. There are no password groups or categories, and no way to sort the list or otherwise filter certain types of passwords from the mass.

When it comes to more advanced features, F-Secure Key lacks them almost completely. There's no way to control the app's auto-locking or clipboard cleaning features; the auto-login feature is very limited, and the hotkeys that do exist are hidden in the help files and are inconvenient to use; there's no indication of how secure your chosen passwords are; and unlike competitors such as Dashlane, there's no option to automatically create entries when logging into new websites. F-Secure's cross-device synchronization is a premium feature which feels secure enough, but is also a bit confusing to set up.

On the upside, F-Secure Key does come from a good home. Backed by a serious security lab, F-Secure Key comes with a nice built-in news feed with updates about recent hacks and passwords thefts. While this feature is not unique to F-Secure Key, it feels good to know the data is obtained in-house.


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