WHAT’S THE PASSWORD?

Like 63 percent of everybody, we use one simple password for most of our online transactions. This is dangerous. If you’re at a coffee shop using a free wireless connection, the person next to you can lift your password. SignupShield is a free program that can prevent this.

Start up the Shield with your master password and it will remember and encrypt all your other passwords and fill them in when you go to a site. It will also handle those Web sites that have multiple sign-in screens. Banks, for example, often ask you to put in a user name and password on one page and then go to the next page to put in another password.

SignupShield is like a free program from Roboform.com, but we find it much easier to use. So apparently have the 18 million other people who have downloaded it. SignupShield Suite, for $35 at Protecteer.com, has extra features such as disposable e-mail addresses. This is useful. Say you sign up for a blog called EZNews. SignupShield will generate a disposable e-mail address that starts with “EZNews.” If a lot of spam starts coming into your mailbox addressed to EZNews, you’ll know which site was responsible for it. You can delete this e-mail address and stop getting the spam.

We came across SignupShield on the new 4-gigabyte Sandisk Cruzer Contour, a U3-enabled flash drive. The U3 part is a program itself (not a revived rock band) that allows portable applications to be used from the flash drive directly, without being loaded into a computer. When you unplug the Cruzer, the host computer has no record of your having been there. The Sandisk Cruzer Contour is $70 from Sandisk.com.

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