App review: Trend Micro DirectPass for Android
DirectPass acts as a secure Web browser and central repository for Web site credentials
- Store all Web passwords in one place
- One password to rule them all
- Can synchronise between mobile and desktop
- Web browser isn't great
- Subscription based
DirectPass runs as a secure Web Browser on Android phones, allowing you to store credetials for your most-frequented sites and to access them with one master password. It can provide peace of mind for those of you who are paranoid about the security of your username and password details, but there is an ongoing, yearly subscription cost involved.
Price$ 19.95 (AUD)
If you use your mobile device to browse many Web sites that require a username and password, keeping track of all those credentials, as well as entering them each time you want to use them, can be a pian. Letting the Web browser remember the details for them can be a security risk, too. Trend Micro's DirectPass app aims to be a central and secure repository for all those credentials, so you won't have to keep entering them each time you visit those sites — you'll only need to enter your main, DirectPass password.
DirectPass works on Android phones and tablets, iPhones and iPads, and Windows PCs, and can be downloaded through Google Play, Apple's App Store or from Trend Micro's Web site. It's an app that weighed in at 11MB on our test phone (an HTC Rhyme that runs Android 2.3.5) and to use it you'll need to create a Trend Micro account. Once your account is all set, the program will be asked to create a master password.
To store Web site credentials with DirectPass, you will first need to browse to the login pages of those sites while using DirectPass — to do this you can tap the 'begin browsing' link on the main screen. You'll have to use DirectPass as your main browser if you want it to bring up stored credentials automatically — it doesn't work by filling in credentials on other browsers, including the built-in browser for Android phones. Basically, once you've used DirectPass to store the usernames and passwords for the sites you most frequently visit and log in to, you'll need to launch the app every time you need to access those sites. Each time you launch the app, or even when you switch back to it after using another app, you'll have to enter the main password that you created when you set up the app.
The DirectPass app that we tried our Android phone worked well to store the credentials for our most-used Web sites, but as a Web browser, it isn't as good as the built-in Android browser. For example, we couldn't double-tap the screen to make text from a Web page fit the screen; instead, we had to use plus and minus buttons and move around the screen. It would be a better user experience if the app could control the credentials for the Web browser of your preference (much like it does on a PC, although Chrome isn't supported), rather than making you browse the Web through its own interface. It doesn't do this for security reasons though.
DirectPass is password enabled to protect your login details to all those sites (whereas another non-secure browser could simply remember the details and allow anyone access) and it protects those with a central password. Once logged in to DirectPass, you can see a list of all the sites for which you have stored credentials, and simply tap on them to log in. DirectPass treats the login page of those sites as a bookmark and enters the information in the supplied fields for usernames and passwords.
If you use DirectPass on your mobile device and also on your desktop PC, you'll have access to all the sites you've stored on both locations once they are synchronised. The bad thing is, mobile devices will store mobile sites, so you'll have to store two sets of credentials, one for the mobile site through your phone, and one for the regular site on your desktop.
You can basically think of DirectPass as a secure Web browser for your mobile device. One which will store usernames and passwords and let you log in to Web sites simply by tapping on their bookmark. All you'll need to remember is a central password for the app, but you'll need to enter this password every time you launch the app, and even when you switch back to it when multi-tasking. For $19.95 per year, it seems like a hefty investment unless password security is of paramount importance to you.
• Related review: Trend Micro Mobile Security Personal Edition
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