Keychain, which stores passwords, registration codes, certificates, secure notes, and anything else that you want to keep secure comes with Mac OS X. It is free and it offers a good level of security for all those things you want to keep secure. Many things are automatically added to Keychain which saves you time.
However, there is one major nuisance factor and one major weakness with Keychain.
Both of the issues can easily be addressed with a new product called RiftVault which provides a deeper level of securely storing information on your Mac if you are running Leopard.
Dealing with the nuisance factor first. In Keychain each item is locked, so if it is time to pay your bills on-line the scenario may be that you open Keychain and open a half-dozen records, one at a time, to get to your passwords so you can access the correct on-line Web sites to pay your various bills. To open each Keychain entry you must enter your administrator password because that is how the system is set up to provide your security. The days of using a single password are long gone and even if they were not, it would not be wise to do so.
Because of the structure of RiftVault, the step of entering a password for each individual record is completely eliminated.
The reason for that is related to the more serious issue of the Keychain weakness: By default, the password to your Keychain information is your user account password. If someone has access to that, they have access to everything stored in your Keychain files.
The reason you can skip this step and the reason RiftVault is so secure is that RiftVault is encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption. When you open an item it is unencrypted and cached for fast access only to be flushed from RAM when you close the item. AES encryption is so secure that the U.S. government has adopted the algorithm as a standard for storing all of its own confidential information.
Plus, RiftVault has its own, very secure, password that is completely different from your user account password.
The image below shows the password registration window. You can see that once set, you have no way to retrieve your password if you forget it. That means, of course, that no one else can ever get to it either. As the user you open your software and then have ready access to any information you have stored therein.
RiftVault Password Registration Window
Another feature that I like is the presentation of stored items. Each item is presented as an icon and each icon is specific to the subject. Item types include passwords, credit cards, calling cards, frequent flyer information, insurance information, bank accounts, notes, and safe deposit boxes. The safe deposit boxes offer encrypted files and folders that have been zipped (compressed) to save space. Each safe deposit box will store up to 1GB of compressed information. Color coding of item names is by user choice.
Sample RiftVault Window
For those who wish to keep meticulous records about their credit cards without keeping paper records, RiftVault offers a built in option that is not available in Keychain. The following is the credit card window.
RiftVault Credit Card Window
Since this is a third party application nothing is auatomatically entered for you, which is an attribute that Keychain offers. You will have to take the time to enter your own information, however, most of the information that I really want to keep secure, such as credit card and bank information, is not automatically stored by Keychain anyway.
The Bottom Line
I recommend this application. It is easy to use, and it took me about 10 minutes to learn. I feel that my information is safe and I can find my different files quickly when I go back into the application because of the structure.