Password ManagersJuly 15, 2009 at 1:13 am | Posted in Computers, Internet, Online services, Security, Software | 3 Comments
Password Managers are basically secured databases. You remember one master password to open it and all your passwords, log-ins, etc. are stored within.
The top rated password manager is RoboForm. It has a free version but that only handles a pointless 10 items. It’s about $30 for a more rich version. It includes a bunch of neat tricks for filling out web forms, etc. etc.
For a free tool, there is KeePass. It’s open source and well supported but doesn’t have the same level of form-filling automation as RoboForm. But it does have quick keyboard shortcuts, etc. Great tool. *
LastPass is another free tool with features more like RoboForm. It’s a web service, making passwords available from various computers a little like webmail but also means your passwords are stored remotely on a private server. However they are encrypted before sending so no one has access. Interestingly, some consider this more secure than carrying it on your person. Have not tried it but they have videos on their site showing how it’s used. It does require some software be installed on the computer it’s being used on, like a browser plug-in. Evidently, they plan a version that stores the data locally too.
Another thing I’ve seen people do is put them in an ordinary spreadsheet, but the spreadsheet is stored on a thumb drive in a secured partition. I used to do something similar as I had hundreds to track and they had to be portably accessible 24/7. You can also use tools to encrypt just the file but it’s usually more useful and easier to have one secure place to keep stuff than a bunch of encrypted files. (again – one password to remember)
Some USB (thumb) drives come with secure partitioning tools. If not, you can use a tool like Rohos Mini Drive for free.
For fancier encryption options, TrueCrypt is the top rated free tool. But encryption tools are not typically simple to learn.
*You can also put KeePass on a thumb drive to keep it with you.
Don’t simply password protect a spreadsheet. That’s easily cracked with free tools.
And don’t forget to back it up. Decent backup programs allow you to password protect the backup.
This may sound a little complicated but it’s just a matter of choosing your best tool, setting it up, and then getting in the habit of using it. Once your passwords are in there, it makes it all easier and faster.
PS – don’t forget the master password. If it’s well encrypted, that’s your only way in.