Digital wellbeing isn’t just about privacy and protection against online scammers and equipment failure. It’s also about having some level of control over our social networks, our screen time, and what we spend on digital services. These outlays are increasingly taking the form of subscriptions. Sure, recurring payments have long been the standard for cell phone billing, music and video streaming services, watching TV and reading online magazines and newspapers, but these days you can sign up for pretty much anything, including delivery of regular consumer goods — like socks or coffee. In many cases, a subscription is the only way to get hold of apps, games, and other online stuff — ever more services are switching to this model, and the number of subscriptions is snowballing. Even automakers are getting in on the subscription game, and soon it might not be possible to turn on the seat heating or use the sat-nav without subscribing to the respective service.

Almost everyone underestimates their subscription costs. According to this fascinating survey, the average American thinks they spend US$86 per month on subscriptions, when the real figure is a whopping US$219! And besides online, there are other recurring payments: mortgages, loans, utility bills, public transport, gym memberships and the like, all of which need to be budgeted so you don’t suddenly find yourself broke.

Monthly subscription costs: expectation versus reality

Monthly subscription costs: expectation versus reality. (Source)

As trite as it sounds, how to save money couldn’t be simpler: cancel subscriptions you don’t use. No less than 42% of respondents admitted to having stopped using an app or service and then forgetting to stop paying for it. Even active subscriptions, renewed for years without change, become less economical over time: by changing your plan to a newer one, applying a promo code, or looking at competitors, you can save a lot.

But more often there’s another problem: 74% of users forget when payment is due. If the subscription auto-renews, it can burn a large hole in your pocket. If you pay manually, forgetting could result in termination of the service. And that can spell trouble if it’s your phone or something equally important.

Free trial

Another common way to accidentally fork out is by subscribing to apps and services that offer a free trial period. The service takes your card number on sign-up, but doesn’t charge you. After a week, month or whatever length of trial period, the first payment falls due. If during this time you decide the service is not for you, what are the chances you forget to go into the settings and cancel the subscription? As practice shows — very high. Such user forgetfulness is now being exploited by less-than-squeaky-clean developers who sell apps on the App Store and Google Play with exorbitant monthly fees (for example, US$90 per month for a regular calculator!). Such apps are known as fleeceware.

How to manage subscriptions properly

To get the most out of your subscriptions, plan your outlays carefully, never pay for unnecessary services, and follow a few simple rules:

  1. Make a general list of subscriptions so you know exactly what, when and how much you’re paying.
  2. Update the list as soon as you subscribe to a new service. Bear in mind that renewing a subscription may be cheaper or more expensive than the first payment — check the small print!
  3. Check the list on a regular basis (say, monthly) to plan your spending for the coming month.
  4. Checking regularly will help you remember to cancel subscriptions you don’t wish to renew. Note that to cancel a subscription it’s usually not enough to simply uninstall the app — you need to go to your personal account or to a special subsection of the App Store/Google Play to cancel it.
  5. Keep an eye out for sales and promotions, such as Black Friday. They often give discounts on subscription renewals.

Despite their outward simplicity, all these tips have one major drawback: they require a high level of self-discipline and attentiveness. They involve record-keeping and list-updating, and not everyone will have the time or inclination. But there is an easier, more convenient way — in the shape of a specialized subscription management service. Speaking of which, Kaspersky Product Studio recently released such an app, called SubsCrab.

SubsCrab helps you manage subscriptions and save money

SubsCrab makes it easy to keep a list of subscriptions, remember when and how much to pay, and find ways to economize.

A single glance at the SubsCrab home screen will provide all subscription details for the current month, as well as monthly outlays, due dates, and the cost of each subscription

A single glance at the SubsCrab home screen will provide all subscription details for the current month, as well as monthly outlays, due dates, and the cost of each subscription

You can add all your subscriptions to the app in one of two ways:

  • Manually. You yourself select subscriptions from a long list of paid services and payment plans. There are already more than 4000 subscription services and 11,000 related plans in the database.
  • Mailbox scan. The app searches your mailbox for emails from all known services, and automatically determines the plan and payment date. Email data is not sent anywhere; all processing takes place on your smartphone.
Adding a new subscription to SubsCrab couldn't be simpler

Adding a new subscription to SubsCrab couldn’t be simpler

Future app updates will add two more methods:

  • Bank statement scan. This feature will only work in the U.S. and some EU countries using the Open Bank API, which is supported by around 15,000 banks. As with email scanning, subscriptions will be searched for locally, and no transaction data will leave your smartphone.
  • Screenshot scan of subscription page in the App Store or Google Play.

Thereby, the app also makes it easy to add new subscriptions as soon as they appear.

When all your subscriptions are in SubsCrab, the app will remind you about upcoming payments, show your total spending for the selected month or year, and help with general budget planning.

Never miss a payment with SubsCrab Push notifications

Never miss a payment with SubsCrab Push notifications

Click or tap on any subscription and you’ll see its current settings, but it’s the bottom of the card that’s the really interesting part. That’s where discount promo codes get published, plus a list of alternative services that do the same job. If you want to cut costs, you can try switching to one of these competitor services or find out how to unsubscribe.

Cards are a handy source of subscription details, alternatives, and promo codes

Cards are a handy source of subscription details, alternatives, and promo codes

It might sound odd, but SubsCrab itself is a subscription service. The free version lets you manually enter subscriptions from the database, choose alternative services, and get reminders and statistics.

The paid version of SubsCrab can automatically find subscriptions in your mailbox, as well as maintain and analyze multiple subscription lists — for different family members or different tasks (entertainment, work, health, etc.); only this version gives you access to promo codes for tasty discounts on your favorite subscriptions.

And if all this helps you cut costs and take control of hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars you spend annually and unaccountably on subscriptions, the juice is worth the squeeze.

#manage #subscription #costs

More great news: our recently updated Kaspersky Password Manager now has a built-in function for generating one-time codes for two-factor authentication (2FA). This means no more installing a separate authenticator app — everything you need is right there in our password manager. Now for a few details…

What’s an authenticator?

On this blog, we focus quite a bit on 2FA — app-generated one-time codes in particular. Over the past couple of years, we’ve posted a whole series of materials on this topic, the most important of which make for highly recommended reading:

In a nutshell, you need 2FA to better protect your accounts, so we recommend enabling it on all services that support it. In our view, one-off codes generated in special authenticator apps strike the best balance between security and usability. Such a code must be entered after the regular password, and because it’s valid for a limited time (usually no more than 30 seconds), it’s extremely difficult to intercept.

The 2FA method is both quick and smooth, provides a high level of protection, and requires no additional input or time investment on the part of the user. Before, 2FA meant having an authenticator app on your device — either Google Authenticator or any other that suits you. Now, however, there’s no need to install an additional app: you can generate codes right inside Kaspersky Password Manager, where your passwords are already stored securely. Let’s take a look at the advantages of our built-in authenticator.

1. Familiar interface with cross-platform convenience

Kaspersky Password Manager generates one-time codes in a familiar user-friendly way: in the special Authenticator section is a list of tokens with names and short descriptions, next to which one-time codes appear and a time counter ticks away until the next update of these codes. That’s similar to how it works in other apps, so you’ll have no trouble switching to Kaspersky Password Manager if you already use another authenticator. That’s an obvious advantage, but far from the only one.

A massive plus compared to other authenticators is that Kaspersky Password Manager gives you a universal, cross-platform, all-in-one solution — the app stores your passwords and generates one-time codes on whichever platform you prefer: computer or phone. Kaspersky Password Manager is available not only for Android and iOS, but also for macOS and Windows (support for 2FA code generation in Windows will be added in an upcoming update). The Windows version is especially important: if you’ve read our post about the best authenticator apps, you’ll have noticed that Windows is rather poorly served.

2. Synchronization and security

Next advantage: all Kaspersky Password Manager entries (passwords, notes, authenticator tokens, etc.) are automatically synchronized between all your devices. This allows you to generate an authentication code on any device you’re currently using.

Synchronization uses the cloud, of course, but with maximum security and convenience. For one thing, you don’t have to create an extra account — a My Kaspersky account is all that’s needed, which you already have if you use any of our products. And for another, all authentication tokens are securely protected by the main password, without which no intruder can use your passwords or authenticator — even if they do somehow get inside your My Kaspersky account.

3. Don’t have your smartphone to hand? No problem!

Users of other authenticator apps face the eternal nightmare of leaving behind or, worse, losing their smartphone: recovering authentication tokens is so difficult that we even wrote a special step-by-step guide for that. Now, because Kaspersky Password Manager securely stores your tokens (and with them all passwords) in encrypted form in the cloud, you can use the authenticator at any time on the device you’re using, as well as restore all data on a new device; all you have to remember is your main password.

4. Easy migration

Lastly, one other advantage of the built-in authenticator in Kaspersky Password Manager is quick and easy migration of all data from Google Authenticator. All you need to do is export all tokens from Google Authenticator to one large QR code in the usual way, then scan it in Kaspersky Password Manager — everything will work right away.

As far as we know, no other authenticator app makes it so easy to migrate data from Google Authenticator; the process usually involves lots of sweat and tears as you painstakingly recreate all your tokens one by one. But with Kaspersky Password Manager, four taps on the screen are literally all it takes.

What else can Kaspersky Password Manager do?

Let’s wrap up with a few words about some other useful features in Kaspersky Password Manager besides unbeatable password protection and the new built-in authenticator. This handy app can also:

  • Autofill data in online forms — and not only usernames and passwords, but other information such as addresses and bank card details.
  • Warn you if your password is too weak, was used before, or has been compromised in a known leak.
  • Generate the strongest passwords possible based on customizable random character combinations.
  • Securely store important documents, bank card details, and any other highly valuable information (for example, cryptowallet seed phrases).
  • Encrypt all stored data with the robust AES-256 algorithm. The encryption key is created from the main password and is not stored anywhere, so without the main password it’s simply impossible to decrypt the contents of Kaspersky Password Manager.

Incidentally, the recent update of Kaspersky Password Manager added not only a built-in authenticator, but also support for Opera and Opera GX browsers. So now you can autofill passwords and other data in all the most popular browsers out there: Chrome (and others based on Chromium), Safari, Firefox, Edge, and now Opera.

And remember, the full version of Kaspersky Password Manager comes included in the Kaspersky Plus and Kaspersky Premium subscriptions, along with the most reliable protection possible, unlimited VPN, and a host of other useful features.

#Builtin #authenticator #Kaspersky #Password #Manager