Passwords. One word has never carried as much important about your personal privacy and online accounts as this one has. Passwords are an evil necessity in a world where we find it hard to trust our co-workers, neighbors and sometimes even our friends and family. If you are anything like me (let’s hope you’re not), you have quite a few passwords. We have passwords for MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, online banking, Amazon, Digg and so on. All these passwords can be extremely difficult to remember, especially if you are using complex ones (upper and lowercase, numbers, letters and special characters).
SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT???
Well, you’ve come to the right place to get an answer. Now I won’t make this a post about HOW to choose a complex password or why you should choose more difficult passwords. Rather, I’d like to open your eyes to a type of software than most of us IT folks use – password management software. There are many types out there; commercial and free. I personally choose to use one that is free (open-source). Password management software is typically a small-sized database that you log into (on your computer). Once you provide the ONE complex password, you are then able to to add, edit, and auto-login from any of your entries.
What Is A Password Manager?
As noted on Wikipedia, A password manager is a piece of software that helps a user organize passwords and PIN codes. The software typically has a local database or files that holds the encrypted (ciphered) password data. Most password managers also work as a form filler, therefore they fill the user and password data automatically into fields and text boxes on websites (such as user name and password fields), so you don’t have to type them.
I will talk about one in particular that I use (KeePass), but below are a list of the various password managers available:
- KeePass (free version)
- Password Safe (free and pay versions)
- E-Wallet (pay version only)
- RoboForm (free and pay versions)
Again, the one I will be speaking about today is KeePass. You can find it in the link above.
So…let’s talk Password Management
After KeePass is installed and run for the first time, you will be prompted to generate a password for the master database of this password manager:
Once you have generated a random key file (which you don’t have to) and you have chosen a COMPLEX master password, you will see the password screen like below:
You can begin by creating entries under the various categories, or creating categories of your own:
Now here’s a sample of mine (please see the areas in red for a more clear understanding):
There’s even a built-in password generator to generate “difficult to guess” passwords for you:
Here we see an example of being able to click on this option, and the program will auto login to the website (no typing required).
So aside from not having to remember a boatload of passwords, what else does this password manager software do for us? Well, it keeps your information secure by preventing usernames and passwords from being captured by malicious software such as key-loggers. It also prevents us from unnecessarily leaving our usernames and passwords out in the open (post-it notes, text, word documents or spreadsheets) where are others can easily access them. You are also able to keep your site registration details (like birth date, address, registered e-mail address) information securely in this mini database for a reference, should you ever need it. Lastly, once a password manager is installed and configured, it really can be a time saver when you log on to multiple websites in a day.
I hope you enjoy this short overview on password managers. You don’t have to be living in a password hell, and with a tool like this you can easily climb your way out from those trenches. Do yourself a favor, download one and try it.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me, or leave a comment on the post.