I was thumbing through a catalog (yes, they still mail out such things) the other day when an electronic gadget caught my eye. It was small and pocket sized, with an LED screen.
A self-contained keyboard was used to enter up to 400 accounts and passwords, all kept snug behind just one password that was used to open the “safe.”
It used three AAA batteries and listed for $50.
Might this device be of help to readers? The first place to begin an answer is with the manufacturer’s website. In this case, the Password Safe was from RecZone.
RecZone LLC is a company that markets many handheld gaming devices used for poker, blackjack, slot-machine games, those types of things. The product information listed the website as www.reczonellc.com.
There I found the first red flag: The website was “parked,” meaning that it was up for sale. Perhaps a variation would work?
No. www.reczone.com produced the same results. Doing some Googling found that the company telephone listed in the manual for the safe had been disconnected.
Amazon has the Password Safe for sale, but at this point, I was more interested in what customers had to say. The posts were revealing.
A post from November 2016 said: “I got this item from Sharper Image several years ago. Has always had this problem of deleting the next item in the queue when editing or deleting (an item).”
The next month, another user added: “I got mine a few months ago, and it also has this problem. Say I’ve got two entries, one for American Express and one for Wells Fargo. I’ve recently changed the password for Am Ex, so I go into the Password Safe, hit Edit, hit American Express, change the password, and hit Ok. Then I hit View: There are two entries for Am Ex, the original one and the one with the updated password. And NO entry for Wells Fargo. It’s gone. Never to be seen again.”
There were no replies to these customer questions, prompting a third user to write in August 2017: “It’s 2017. Has the issue with safe deleting entries when editing been fixed?”
Again, no reply. Nor was there a reply to the January 2020 post: “Is the issue still a problem?”
Editing entries only to find another would disappear was not the only concern. Some users complained that when they changed batteries, information was lost – even though data was supposed to be kept in memory when no batteries were in the device.
More than 2,060 Amazon customers submitted a rating for the Password Safe, giving it an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Even so, only a few of those ratings were recent, and there was no indication that a major flaw in the design had been corrected – even though nearly five years had elapsed since the flaw was reported.
I looked at a few different brands of handheld password savers. Since they aren’t connected to the Internet, and store no websites or passwords online, there’s no way to hack them without being in possession of the password saver itself.
And that also means there’s no way to back up the data in the password saver to a desktop computer or smartphone. More than one user of these devices wished for such a back up. On some units, a key would stick on the keyboard, rendering it useless for putting in information – or recalling it.
No matter what the brand, some users would come up with the same solution for keeping these pocket-sized password keepers backed up: When entering passwords in the electronic device, also list them in a notebook.
Indeed. It doesn’t take a lot of room to enter a website address, user name, and password. A small notepad, or an index box to hold three-by-five inch cards will do — although the notepad would be easier to conceal.
It’s not the perfect solution. Writing it down is old school. But when it comes to retrieval, it’s also Old Faithful.
Lonnie Brown can be reached at [email protected].