Interviewing Strongbox Founder Mark McGuill made Aviva Zacks of Safety Detectives immediately want to download the app so her phone could be more secure.
Safety Detectives: What inspired you to start Strongbox?
Mark McGuill: It started out as a side project. There were no good Password Safe clients on iOS at the time and I was looking for a good first iOS app to work on and learn from. It was a little bit rough around the edges at first, but over the last six or seven years especially with the addition of KeePass support, I think it has really, surprisingly, come together. It’s become much more of a polished experience with many users which I didn’t really expect. It was much more of a hobby project, something I was building only for myself.
SD: Can you tell me some of what your company does?
MM: The primary app is Strongbox which is a password manager based on an opensource format. It’s a password management app for iOS and macOS, and the idea is a more technical, more opensource, and more configurable version of very popular password managers like LastPass or 1Password. The key is password management where you can store your passwords wherever you like so you’re in control of the storage and where you keep your secrets. Nobody wants to give their passwords away to anyone. So Strongbox gives you that little bit more control.
SD: What makes Strongbox unique when there are so many password management solutions out there?
MM: The key point is that you control and own your storage, so you decide where you want to store those passwords. You can store them on Dropbox or Google Drive, or you can host them yourself on your own server via SFTP or WebDAV. You can keep them locally on a device only, and it’s opensource based so you’re never locked into Strongbox or any other app. There is a plethora of other apps on other platforms that will open the exact same password database for you.
The key selling point against our competitors that are in the same space is that we offer a polished native iOS and macOS experience and a large and very configurable feature set. It’s more aimed at reasonably technically confident people than the general retail market, so we get a lot of developers and system administrators using it. Capabilities like auditing, merging, duress options, Face ID unlock, and offline editing really outshine the competition.
SD: What would you say are the worst cyberthreats out there today?
MM: Putting aside the SolarWinds hack and ransomware, from a password management point of view, so many people are working from home and have so many passwords, causing password fatigue. People tend to reuse passwords which leads to security weakness, so you really need to be using a password manager. Strongbox can generate very strong secure passwords for you, and you shouldn’t have to memorize them. You want to avoid password reuse and password fatigue.
SD: How do you think the pandemic is changing cybersecurity for the future?
MM: Work from home is the most obvious one, isn’t it? But everything from banking, the rise of retail stock trading, and cryptocurrencies are up and coming now as well. Everybody is doing everything online now, and for every account you have online, you have to have a password or credential. It’s becoming essential now for people to have some way to keep track of or to manage these logins and passwords, which is where password management comes in. Working from home has really changed things.