7 best programs to protect your passwords

4. Keeper, free

Of all the iPhone apps, we like Keeper best. It only uses 128bit AES encryption rather than 256bit, but the standalone app is free and could still take any potential hacker 13 billion years to brute force their way open.

There are Mac and PC versions available which will sync with the phone via USB for $14.95, but by itself it's a good backup to a service like LastPass. After all, where do you store the password for your single sign-on service? In a second vault, of course.

And if someone steals your phone they have just four attempts to crack the key to the Keeper vault before it completely self destructs.

Keeper

5. Steganos Password Manager, $39.95

One of the best known names for desktop encryption products, Steganos' Password Manager doesn't have online syncing like LastPass, but it does score over its rivals in the ingenuity of its master password creation.

You're not limited to text entry, and setting up a hardware key token using a USB drive, PDA or camera is simple and effective. Best of all, though, is the ability to use a series of pictures, rather than characters, to create passwords so secure, even you won't know what they are. Windows only, though.

Steganos

6. eWallet, $19.95

Very similar to Keeper and 1Password, eWallet syncs encrypted password data between a Windows PC and an iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile or Palm OS-based PDA or phone. Graphically it's very pretty, with pictures of credit cards for credit card details, and there's a web-syncing service currently in testing which will help to lift it above similarly featured rivals.

eWallet

7. Firefox, free

If we haven't convinced you by now to create new, 20 character random passwords for everything that's important to you and use an encrypted vault (or two) to store them in, they we almost give up hope. Almost.

The very least you should do, though, is to encrypt all those website passwords your browser has stored – otherwise they're stored in plain text and anyone who uses your PC can find them just by looking in your browser's options menu. Lock them up in Firefox by going to Edit > Preferences > Security > Use a master password.