03 June 2009

Managing Passwords

So many people say to me they use a single password for multiple websites or accounts.  If like me you work in IT this makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up!

Why You Should Not Use the Same Password

So much advice is available online but to add my point: if you owned multiple houses in the same street you would not have the same front door key for all of them would you? Your computer is like the street and your multiple accounts like the houses: each house (website, email account or application) contains valuable data. If a thief gets hold of one of the keys, all your valuables are available to them.

I Can't Remember Them All So What's the Solution?

With so many passwords to remember you need to store them securely. One way is to use a password safe program that encrypts them and stores them in a file which you open with a master key. This means you still only have to remember one password, but all the other passwords are then in that safe. In my analogy it's like having a hidden safe in the street next to the houses with the front door keys in. The master password can also be made up of both a password and a file e.g. a picture.

There are many alternatives but I use KeePass Password Safe. This great open source password safe keeps all your passwords in a safe secure and portable format with one master key password and/or file to access them all. It also includes handy password generator.

There are versions of the safe for many platforms, although of course be wary of trusting unofficial solutions. NB if you are on iPhone/Pad check the iTunes version for compatibility to the Mac/Windows version e.g. you might have to use version 1.x of KeePass to be compatible.

Using this program you can store the passwords for all your accounts and then using a file syncing service like Dropbox, Skydrive or Google Drive you can be sure that you can access the safe from your computer, smartphone, tablet etc.

Thanks to the team who have worked on KeePass and it's ports for all your excellent work.

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