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1Password adds a ‘travel mode’ to keep your passwords safe at the border

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Image: AgileBits

1Password received a handy new feature last week that allows the app to temporarily remove all passwords, credit cards, and other stored data from a user’s devices. The feature is called Travel Mode, and it was created to protect users worried about running into trouble with security agents while traveling.

Increasingly, people are being asked to turn over and unlock their phones at the border, and doing that can expose a huge amount of data. Add in an app like 1Password — a central repository for a ton of private data — and it’s easy to see why someone would be worried about having to hand over their phone.

Travel Mode requires a bit of work, but it goes a good way to resolve that problem. 1Password subscribers now have the ability to mark certain “vaults” (essentially, profiles containing a bunch of different passwords and secure information) as “safe for travel.”

Then, when Travel Mode is activated from the web, all vaults that aren’t marked “safe” will be completely pulled from any devices they were syncing to. That means there should be no data left for anyone to search through, even if a third party somehow gained access. Once Travel Mode is deactivated, the missing vaults will sync across all devices again.

The downside to using Travel Mode is that subscribers will necessarily lose access to some of their data. That means anyone using this feature will likely need to set up a separate travel-friendly vault that stores the basic passwords they may need to get through a trip. But for anyone worried about their information falling into someone else’s hands, that doesn’t sound like a huge hassle.

This feature could be useful for companies, too. 1Password’s creator, AgileBits, says it came up with the idea after hearing about the lengths another company was going to secure its employees’ vaults while traveling. Companies using 1Password Teams will have control over Travel Mode on each employee’s account.

Unfortunately, Travel Mode is limited to 1Password subscribers — it isn’t available for people who purchased the app outright. That makes enough sense, since this is a cloud feature and the subscription service seems to be the future of AgileBits’ business model, but it’s definitely a bit disappointing to see the paid version of the app and the subscription version begin to diverge.