- Masking of highly sensitive personal data
- Website tracking prevention
- Multiplatform support
- Outstanding account security
- 30-day free trial of premium features
- Various discount options
- Manual importing of credentials
- Pay-only masking features
- Expensive annual subscription
After seeing a new wave of data breaches that even the biggest companies like Facebook or Google can’t escape, many people wish that they can just simply blur out their personal data to prevent it from being captured by hackers. That’s pretty much the case with solutions like the Blur – Abine’s other internet security service beside DeleteMe – making this wish become true in a jiffy. Although it primarily focuses on the most important features related to password management, Blur still has some neat tricks to help it stand out. In fact, it’s the outstanding security – which includes a unique way of masking data like email addresses, phone numbers, and credit cards from untrustworthy services – that makes Blur such a must-have and a strong competitor to many advanced password managers. But what’s more important is that this particular app can be enjoyed without limits for free, at least for the first 30 days.
Surprisingly, Abine Blur doesn’t require users to download a separate desktop application because it’s fully browser-based – a feature that only a few of its competitors share. Despite this, Blur acts and feels like any other password manager, even down to its ability to categorize everything – logins, credit card data, addresses, and IDs – in a logical manner. The addition of the ability to switch between the default compact dashboard view or the full dashboard that displays everything is especially interesting.
However, there is one major oddity and that’s the name of a particular category, “Passwords”, which is in fact the page that evaluates passwords and looks for duplicates. Confusingly, this page also contains a password generator button that automatically creates a new entry in “Accounts” every time it’s used, a rather annoying and unnecessary function considering that a new password can be generated in a simpler way when a new login is added to the vault.
Thankfully, the other major category, “Accounts”, is more straightforward, as it is used for storing logins as its name suggests. Interestingly, this is the place for secure notes, too, but their only purpose is to store additional information related to logins like PIN codes. Creating and editing an entry itself isn’t complicated at all, plus the moment a login is saved – either manually or via a prompt – it can be automatically recalled from Blur. In addition to that, looking up entries in the vault takes no time at all thanks to the convenient search bar and the favoriting tool that allows users to quickly access frequently used logins.
The same convenience cannot be said about sharing passwords, unfortunately. There is no option to safely share passwords between accounts and nor is there online syncing of data between devices either – unless you are subscribed to Blur’s premium version, that is.
At first masking may not have anything to do with password management, but from a security point of view it’s undoubtedly a useful feature. The principle behind masking is that every time a new account is registered, Blur will fill out registry forms with untraceable data. However, unlike made-up, throwaway contacts, these actually work; emails and calls directed to the fake contact details are forwarded to users unless they block that option from within their Blur account. More interestingly, these fake contacts can be used the other way around, too, meaning that emails and calls can still be replied by using the fake email address or phone number.
There are a few catches with masking, though. Firstly, placing calls from the fake phone number is only possible if you have a positive Blur balance – a method that prepaid SIM card users will be familiar with. Prepayment is also a requirement for masked credit cards, since they only work after the fake card is refilled with the exact amount that needs to be paid. This also means that using the masked phone number and fake credit cards are pay-only features, therefore free users are limited to making use of fake email addresses only.
Apps & Browser Extensions
With the exception of Microsoft Edge, Abine Blur provides an add-on for all major web browsers, and that’s why it’s quite sad that it is limited to login prompts and password recollection only. However, Blur users are compensated with a feature that no other password management extensions have: the anti-tracker. With this clever addition users can utilize further protection from built-in website trackers and can surf the internet without any third parties knowing what they are doing. The only downside to the anti-tracker is that when it’s turned on, social media modules won’t display properly on websites or won’t appear at all.
Blur’s mobile apps, which are available for Android and iOS devices, are almost the exact copies of the browser version. However, there are a few differences. For starters, the app’s dashboard is restricted to compact view, which is a huge asset in finding functions more easily. Then there is the option to use fingerprint login instead of the master password when users need to close the application but don’t want to log out just yet. As a final bonus, DuckDuckGo is built into the app, this being a privacy-focused search engine that doesn’t track your searches like Google does.
Since Blur is a pretty basic password manager and that it exists entirely in the cloud, setting up an account can be done in mere seconds. In fact, all it takes is an email address – a real one, mind you – and a strong enough master password to instantly create a Blur account. But no matter how easy it is to set up an account with Blur, there is one major flaw that poisons the entire process and downright questions the overall usability of the software. The app simply cannot automatically import anything from browsers even with the add-ons installed. This means that unless they are exported in .CSV format and then added to Blur, the only way to import your existing credentials into the vault is by signing in to each of your accounts and waiting for the software’s prompt – a solution that is anything but user-friendly.
However, there is an unexpected advantage of limiting data import to .CSV files, namely that Blur can import data from competing password managers such as Dashlane, LastPass, 1Password, and RoboForm. It’s good to know that manual importing works between Blur accounts as well, since this is particularly useful for free users who can only use the cloud syncing and backup for the first 30 days of use when all premium features except masked phone numbers are available.
Security & Privacy
You may think that due to it being browser-based, Abine Blur isn’t as good security-wise as its competitors. Thankfully that’s not the case at all, as Blur is quite decent when it comes to data protection. Aside from the constant albeit confusing evaluation of all passwords, logins are encrypted locally, meaning that no sensitive data can be intercepted by wrongdoers even when passwords are synced across devices. In fact, Blur takes the protection of passwords so seriously that if the master password is forgotten, the only way to access the account and restore logins is by providing the backup passphrase, a unique code assigned to all users automatically.
But all of this is just part of the equation, as Blur can be set up to automatically back up data on a frequent basis and will log users out after a certain amount of time for security purposes. Additionally, Blur supports two-factor authentication on both the desktop and mobile versions alike, plus it properly monitors user activities to make sure that you’re aware of any unknown login sessions immediately. Combine that with the masking features and Blur basically leaves other, simpler password managers in the dust.
Abine is extremely generous with its users since it allows them to enjoy all but one of Blur’s premium features without limitations for the first 30 days. Although these features are blocked the moment the 30-day free trial expires, the basic features remain available for as long as you wish. However, it’s highly recommended to subscribe to Abine Blur Premium, and not just because of the convenience of the masking features or the automated backup and syncing options.
For one, premium subscribers are provided priority customer support to ensure responses within one day of submitting a support ticket. Then there is the 14-day money-back guarantee that entitles you to a full refund, but only if the software is unusable due to unforeseen reasons. And last but not least, there is the pricing itself. Granted, $39 a year ($3 per month) is a bit too much for a solution that doesn’t offer too many special functions when compared to other similar apps, but this price can be reduced to just $2.20 a month by simply subscribing to Premium for at least three years.
There are two options for contacting Abine’s staff in real time. The first option is sending them a message via the support module, but in this case the waiting time may be as long as three business days, depending on your subscription type. However, by using live chat – available during regular working hours – that wait time can be reduced to zero. Yet the best option for getting proper support is to turn to the detailed FAQ where virtually anything that could come to mind for Blur users is answered in a straightforward manner. It’s also a smart idea to visit the company’s blog from time to time, not just for product updates and password management trivia but to also get notified of important news such as data breaches.
Abine’s Blur is an interesting case since it hides pretty clever features behind an otherwise average password manager. Admittedly, its password management capabilities are up to industry standards but, sadly, questionable choices make the software less convenient than it could be, in particular how awkward importing passwords into the vault is or the unconventional naming of certain features.
But when it comes to protecting data, Blur is undoubtedly a champion. The attention to account security is important, but the masking of highly sensitive personal data used in filling out registry forms is an ingenious idea. Combine this with Blur’s multiplatform nature and the generous pricing policy through which even free users can enjoy the software without limits for a certain period of time, and it becomes safe to say that Abine’s password management solution is certainly a worthy alternative password manager worth your attention.