Spilling the Beans – Norton Identity Safe now available

In my day job, I get a lot of press releases announcing everything from the latest cool new products to dumb stuff like “we updated our web site with pretty new graphics!” The vast majority of them are of little interest but occasionally, a gem pops up that has to be commented on.

For those of you unfamiliar, companies will sometimes have embargoes – where they tell the media about their products days or weeks in advance but ask the media to not reveal the details until a particular date and time. You see it often with products from Apple. Ever notice how The Usual Suspects all get their Apple product reviews posted at almost the exact same time? It’s because Apple has contacted them and said, “We’ll let you use our latest toys but you can’t tell anyone about it until this date/time”.

The key is the method I described – the company contacts the journalist and asks if they would like to be involved but constrained by certain ground rules. This allows the journalist to decide whether or not to participate. But what happens when you have a company that sends you a press release with all the details and then tries to put you under embargo, without you ever having agreed to it? This…

Tomorrow [Tuesday], Norton will announce a new, free, secure password manager – Norton Identity Safe – that works on Macs and iOS.According to a recent survey by Norton, 70 percent of people have forgotten at least one of their passwords in the past month – not surprising, when you consider how many passwords we all have to remember on a daily basis, whether on our home computers, laptops or mobile phones. In fact, when given a choice of several challenging tasks, 40 percent of people indicate remembering all of their passwords is among the top three most difficult – more than those who selected balancing their checkbook.

As a result, people often resort to using weak passwords based on their pets’ or family members’ names or using the same password across multiple sites, leaving them at risk of identity theft and loss of personal information when a hacker cracks one obvious password and gains access to all of their online accounts.

Others keep a physical list of passwords at home – not much use for the 48 percent of people who access online accounts on the go from their mobile device.

The Norton PR person sending out the email then writes, “Below are the press release and screenshots of the product, under embargo until Tuesday, April 24 at 8 a.m. ET/ 5 a.m. PT.”

I never agreed to be embargoed. I have no prior relationship with Norton or this PR person. They never contacted me by phone, email, Twitter, smoke signals….From my point of view, I am under no obligation to “keep their secret”.

You can get this new product, for free, at Norton’s web site.

But contrary to their own press release, it doesn’t seem to be available for the Mac OS yet.

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