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Download my interview with Roboform’s VP of Marketing and Promotions
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: This is Jonathan Kraft and I am here today with the VP of marketing for Roboform as well as a company called Siber that makes Roboform, Mr. Bill Kerry. How are you doing today Mr. Kerry?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): I’m doing great Jonathan, how are you doing?
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: I’m doing great as well, thank you for asking. And I’m really excited about interviewing you because I have loved personally using Roboform. I just think it has saved me… I cannot tell you how much time I think it has saved me in the last year and a half. I definitely couldn’t disount this program because of the time it has saved me in the past year. I tell people that it is the best thirty bucks that I spent in 2006. But, if you can just briefly talk about what was the reason that Roboform was created?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Sure, no problem. Siber Systems, which is the parent company, that has been around since 1995, actually started off doing Cobol programming and some interesting things, trying to recover Cobol data files and stuff like that. And the way Roboform got started is our CEO had a need to secure his own passwords. He was tired of just trying to figure out a better way to do it (you know password protect a word document or just putting it into a text file) and he thought there has to be an easier way. And really he just created a really basic program, called it Roboform and put it out there on the web and that was around 2000. And it’s taken off from 2000 just being a small little kind of cool little free utility to really turning into a real business and you know, real software. He found that there was a need for it and we fast forward until today and we just crossed about eighteen million downloads of our product and it has been reviewed by a Who’s Who of the media. We have received all kinds of accolades like PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice, and CNET’s best software of the year and so, it’s kind of cool how just a neat little idea, something that was created for his own usage, turned into this big and reputable piece of software that we have today.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Absolutely. So he actually used it to protect his own passwords. What would be some of the things that he would have been using it to protect his passwords from?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Well, it was mostly a way to safely secure your passwords and then to fill other forms online. But, protecting his passwords could have been from anything. There’s known hackers that can get into people’s computers and get your password and when you’re using, using passwords is a risky business. More people spend more time online and they are doing more things online. They’re banking and direct bill pay and all kinds of stuff and if someone were to discover you using your name and passwords for your accounts, they can steal your identity and really create a mess for you. So, you know the main reason for protecting, and to use secure passwords is to protect you from all, you know, from some of the bad things out there.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: And we have seen in the news obviously funny people doing weird things to other people.
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Identity theft is just one of those things that you just almost cannot get away from in the news and identity theft really starts with you know…with people stealing your passwords.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Well I knew that one of the things that we’ve talked a lot about is keylogging and I think it’s really interesting how Roboform kind of gets around the keylogging problem. But if you would just talk briefly about what is a keylogger and then what are some of the problems associated with them and how does Roboform overcome that challenge?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Okay, great. Yes, keyloggers are one of the methods that a hacker can use to steal your identity and to figure out what you are doing. And what it is, it is a small piece of software that gets installed on your computer and literally logs the keystrokes that your computer makes. And so if you’re constantly typing and going to different websites and typing in your user names and passwords everywhere, a keylogger will get that information and they would have that information to log into your accounts and do all the things that I spoke about before. The way Roboform gets around that is that you have one master password which can be input with virtual keyboard and then Roboform logs you into all your websites automatically bypassing your keyboard. And so it essentially defeats keyloggers because you’re never using your keyboard.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Which is exciting from the perspective of saving time, for me anyway. I mean it’s just, was really exciting when I first got it. I don’t even think about it now, but when I first got it, it was like “oh my gosh,” I don’t have to sit and type all these ridiculous passwords in for all the places I go online. It was really exciting just from a time saving perspective and then…
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): We’ve focused on the security so far but it’s really a time saver and, you know, you’re not even hitting on the point like a lot of people get their password wrong and/or forget it. That’s just a tremendous amount of time trying to get your password reset or to send an e-mail into customer service and get your password back. With Roboform, not only is it this great security tool it’s a nice automation tool, it’s going to save you a ton of time and so for example…it’s kind of like having bookmarks on steroids…so you know it’s a bookmark you click on…you know what page you want to go to. But with Roboform, you click on your Roboform pass card and Roboform is going to take you to the website. Enter your user name and password and click the submit button for you. And so you’re doing all those, you’re saving all typing, and all those steps and you’re literally logging into websites with one click now.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: I know that inside of Internet Explorer and Firefox–and I really have not used other browsers. But they basically keep track of your passwords for you through auto complete–or, I’m not sure how Firefox does it but I know it has a set– basically that keeps track of your passwords for you.
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Right.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: How is a program like Roboform or even another program that’s a password manager, how is that kind of a program better than something like auto complete?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Well the main difference between Roboform’s auto complete and Firefox’s auto complete is that Roboform takes that information and stores secure files on your computer and those files are protected with military level type of encryption. You use three different encryption standards. Our default one is AES which is two hundred and fifty-six bit encryption, which essentially means it hasn’t been hacked ever. So we take your user name and password information and secure them in secure files on your computer and with auto complete and Firefox’s methodology none of this stuff is secure. Basically you hit save on a regular file on your computer and it’s not in a secure location and it’s very easy to get to and you don’t even need to be a sophisticated hacker to figure out where it is. And to show you how insecure it is, we’ll actually, during our installation process, we show you all the user names and passwords that you have stored in auto complete and in Firefox and ask if you’d like to automatically convert those into a secure Roboform pass card.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: That blew me away actually when I first installed Roboform that it was able to grab all those passwords from Internet Explorer and that is what I was using at the time. If people are using Firefox or Opera’s password managers or some other browser, will it also grab those passwords and turn them into secure passwords if they are using those other browsers and they download Roboform?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): It should with Firefox–with Opera we are not working with very closely– with them because they do have their own password manager and so I am not positive if we even look for them actually. I know we look for the auto complete and we do look for Firefox I’m fairly certain, but with the Opera we haven’t really been able to work too closely with them like we have with all the other browsers out there.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: I know that there are a lot fewer people using Opera so probably not as high of a priority.
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Yes. It’s a smaller percent of the market. I think they have maybe two and a half percent share and it’s a pretty good browsers I wouldn’t say anything negative just because we’re not working with them but it’s a pretty good browser, it’s pretty quick but you know they don’t have the manpower like a Firefox and obviously Internet Explorer to really get their name out there and so we do try to focus on the bigger guys.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Well, we have talked about the time saving aspect as well as the security aspects of the password manager. Are there other reasons people use password managers that you can think of?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Yes. I mean if you think of the total picture–of it the time saver now you get to log into websites automatically so you don’t have to ever worry about forgetting your password again and now since you have something remembering your passwords, now you can use secure passwords for all your different websites instead of using the same passwords for all these different websites–and so there are a lot of different things.
Roboform will also do some things, like it will generate secure passwords for you so now you don’t have to worry about coming up with extra passwords. Roboform will generate them for you and again since you don’t have to worry about remembering it, Roboform will. You can now use these hard generated passwords. Roboform also has a neat little feature called Safenotes. And the best way to think about safenotes is that they’re kind of like a secure yellow sticky so anything you want to write down on a yellow sticky but you don’t really want to leave it on your desk, Roboform has that, and those yellow stickies are the safenotes, are securely stored on your computer with the same encryption as your pass cards and all that stuff. You know, we have a lot of other little bells and whistles that save you time, like Roboform installs a toolbar so you can type in a search phrase right into the toolbar and instead of just having one search toolbar available like a Yahoo toolbar or a Google toolbar, you can set up Roboform to search on any search website. And we actually have a thing called search cards where you can actually search on any website that has a search functionality–at all and so it is actually much more robust than just the simple Google toolbar or Yahoo toolbar. You know, you can type in a phrase into your search toolbar and click on the yellow highlighter and then easily find that phrase on the page, so say for example I search on password manager and I don’t know where on this really long page this article is using the term password manager. I can type in password manager in the toolbar, click on the yellow sticky and then scroll down and it will highlight all the text where it mentioned password manager. So there’s a lot of other…what we’ve discovered is that the toolbar is really viable real estate and if someone is going to use one toolbar over another, we want them to use Roboform and so we built in all these additional functionalities in there, it’s not the main function or the main function of the password management form filling, but we wanted to have a lot of other bells and whistles in there to make it worthwhile since it’s taken up that valuable real estate.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Interesting. I haven’t actually used those features of Roboform probably because I didn’t really even know they were there, but I just thought, Man! for the timesaving aspect, Roboform was…Roboform was totally worth the expense on it.
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): We do…you know we have these little tutorials on our site which talks about some of the features and gives you like a quick thirty second overview of how to use them, but we don’t…we totally market it as password management and form filling. And, you know we have not really mentioned the form filling aspect of it, which is a great time saver as well. Yes, what the form filler allows you to do is enter your personal information one time into Roboform. So your name, your address, your phone number, credit card information if you wanted to or–really any information that you wanted to and then when you come across a long registration form or a long check out form–you click on your identity and Roboform will literally be able to fill that whole form–for you and so just think about all the timesaving that will help you…you know you fill…those forms could take five minutes and then if you don’t get it right you have to do it again and so Roboform will make sure that the form is filled out for you in one-click which is another timesaver.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: So. I am filling all my information into Roboform; I fill out my name, my address, my credit card number and maybe even my social security number. How is it–I mean you mentioned two hundred fifty-six bit encryption, but I don’t know if most people are familiar with what that. How does it keep everything secure on my computer and then–do my passwords get stored anywhere with you? At your company, or is it just stored locally on my computer?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): That is a really good question. I am glad you brought it up. No, all the information. Roboform is in the trust business and so, what I mean by that is we don’t know anything about you. We are trying to stay as far away from that information as possible and so the information is never taken to our servers. You know, we want nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact, I’m the VP of marketing and I promotions for Roboform, and I couldn’t tell you what our demographic is because we never go out and ask people what their demographics are. We never try to collect that coded information because we’re trying to keep that information, because we’re trying to keep our users so anonymous. And so the way that information gets stored on your computer is it gets stored in an individual file, and the individual file is encrypted and there’s an encryption key that will unlock the file. Definitely don’t discount the encryption. The encryption key is your master password. So what that means is, let’s just say you’ve created a pass card, you can send me that pass card, you can put it out there on the Internet, you can do whatever you want with that file, but it is virtually useless to everybody. Well, not virtually, it’s useless to everybody unless they know what your master password is. So that master encrypted Roboform password isn’t something you should discount. Unless someone enters that master password, there’s no way to break that encryption code and there’s no way to actually view or access that file and that’s how it gets stored on your computer.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: So if I have Roboform, and let’s say let’s say it’s filling in, and I’m just throwing this out as a hypothetical, but let’s say I use Roboform to auto generate codes and passwords for me at a bunch of different websites. I even use Roboform for, you know, my e-mail or whatever. I log into Yahoo or Google mail or whatever and Roboform has generated an automatic password for me. And then my computer crashes and I never learned what that password was to log into that website. My computer crashes with that file on it, so how do I get back into my e-mail?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): There are a few primary ways. One is hopefully you are practicing good either file backup on synchronization practices so you’re not just leaving those files all on your computers. You are backing those codes up somewhere else so you’re not just leaving those files all on your computer. You’re backing them up somewhere else and again, it’s a smart and safe idea to do that because the files are worthless, you know, to anybody getting them unless they know your master password or code. So you may have like an online backup service you can use a discount on our other product, GoodSync, to backup to an external drive. There are a number of ways to back it up, but Roboform also has a feature that allows you to print your pass cards. So periodically you can make a print out which will show all your pass cards on a page, or list a bunch of them on a page and you can print it out. Although we do not recommend having that laying around your computer or anything, you can certainly print it out and put it in a secure location. So wherever you would keep other household secure documents, you can print out your pass cards or periodically do it, and save it in a safe deposit box or in a safe in your house or wherever you keep other sensitive type of files.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Some very good recommendations there I think. Well, kind of going in a different direction I think here. I use thumb drives frequently for information. You know the danger of a thumb drive obviously is that it’s so easy to leave somewhere. What is the best way to make sure information on the thumb drive is protected behind some code?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Well, there are a couple of ways to do that. One is that most of the time manufacturers will stick on a little piece of software that will allow you to use a password to protect a thumb drive. So, in other words, you can’t even access the thumb drive until you enter a password. If your USB flash drive doesn’t come with that, there are other pieces of software out there that allow you to, you know, to create a password for your thumb drive. In general there’s all different, there’s a bunch of different ones. If you have a U3 version of a flash drive, you can go to the U3 website. And a non-U3 version you can just go to different websites like Download.com and find them on there. But Roboform has a portable version called the Roboform2Go and you can certainly install Roboform2Go directly on your USB flash drive. Save all your user names and passwords on your flash drive and then go take that flash drive and plug it in into any computer anywhere in the world and you would have access to all your user names and passwords and be able to log into websites automatically and fill forms with the one click. And so, the unique thing about Roboform2Go is that the software actually runs off of the flash drive itself and so as soon as you remove the flash drive from the host computer, there is no information that’s ever left behind. I literally have one in my pocket now. I can go take my USB flash drive and go to an Internet CafÃ©, log into all my different websites as I normally would, and once I remove the USB flash drive, I can be totally confident that it’s totally secure that no one can get that information.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Awesome. Well what other types of services do you guys offer me? I heard you mention Roboform2Go there and obviously, that’s for, I would imagine kind of a pocket PC as well as USB drives. Is there any other kind of services that you offer, or any kind of applications for Roboform2Go?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): We do, we have, well we have a couple of different version of Roboform. We have Roboform, we have Roboform2Go you just touched on it–Roboform works off of like your palm devices and your pocket PCs and things like that and we also have an enterprise version which is geared towards large companies. So now you can customize Roboform however you want it or your IT professional can, and it literally takes a couple of minutes to do it. And then they can deploy it to all of their employees at one time. So that’s a pretty neat feature about Roboform Enterprise. And then we have another product called GoodSync, which is a file back up and synchronization program and so, you know everybody knows (we touched on this just a few minutes ago) everybody knows they should be backing up or synchronizing their programs but few people really do it. And they don’t do it because they don’t think about it or they don’t do it because the programs are too complicated. So we created GoodSync, which is just a really easy, uncomplicated, robust file synchronization program that you can set up to back up and synchronize your files automatically. So you set it one time and then you forget about it and then your files are always getting backed up someplace. And in case you ever have that computer crash you still won’t lose all that data. It has this thing called True Bi-Directional Synchronization, and so if your computer every gets cut-off in the middle of a synchronization, it will pick up exactly where it left off so it guarantees against data loss and so really we created the program with the same type of intensity that we did with Roboform. We really wanted to make a robust piece of software that was good and easy to use and users are really enjoying that software.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Well, is there anything else? I mean you said you have eighteen million users on Roboform. I imagine you guys are doing okay as a company, that’s really, really great! Congratulations on the success you guys are having. Is there anything else you would like to share with people about Roboform, or what you have been doing with the company, or anything like that?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): Yes. You know Roboform Version 7 is coming out and that will be out in the fall. And that is going to take Roboform to a whole new level. And it will be able to not only log you into just different websites but anything that works off of the Win32 platform. So anything (any other kind of documents that you would normally use that you password protect) Roboform will now be able to remember those passwords and log you into a document and stuff like that. We have a bunch of other bells and whistles. We’re seriously considering offering a remote access of Roboform and so you don’t have to…in other words we will give users the option to store their pass cards on our servers and then be able to access those from any computer.
So, it’s another way to make Roboform portable, but not require the user to carry around a USB flash drive. And so there are some new and interesting things coming around the corner with Roboform. We’re looking to do a big push with GoodSync and get that out there and get more people worrying about (not worrying about that) get more people using it so that they don’t have to worry about losing their files. And you know its just one of those things. It’s almost like we have a mission here. We want people to start synchronizing and backing up their files because more people are on the computer, they are spending more time on the computer, doing bill payment and all that kind of stuff, and we just don’t want them to lose that data. So we just feel that there is a real need to educate people and let them know that they should be backing up their information. And, you never know, you know we’re looking at some other companies that are similar to ours and might be a little bit further behind in their software development to try to add their programs into what we are doing and possibly look for some acquisitions and stuff like that, so it’s exciting times for Roboform right now.
IDENTITYTHEFTSECRETS: Well, thank you very much for taking the time today, really appreciate you doing that. Oviously we’re going to link to Roboform here from the interview so if people have other questions, or if they want to go ahead and try the program, they can do that. I know you guys have a trial version as well. I really appreciate you taking the time today and any final thoughts here?
ROBOFORM (BILL KERRY): No final thoughts. Thanks for having me Jonathan, I appreciate you.
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