Some people use a naming convention to remember passwords, ie. scooter1, scooter2 etc. These are terrible passwords. Sure not as bad as ‘password’ or ‘1234’, but bad none the less. A good password looks like this…
kRay2m3eYo*M6&,;vjS”D#Svf_Oinu*dnFLAHOJ8E;8pr’However, most places will not accept passwords like that. So something like 0f28BFfc60tS6 is usually around the best you can get. These are completely random letters and numbers with upper and lower case.
“Seriously? How am I supposed to remember that?”
There is a catch, you should never use the same password for multiple things. Do not use the same password for your online banking as you use for Facebook for example. So you need to have a lot of those.
“Ok, so I have to write all these passwords down on a notebook and drag this notebook around with me everywhere I go?”
Yet another catch, do not write down any password for anything, ever. What if you lose that notebook? That is all your passwords to everything out there. Who knows who might find it.
“Ok, so I need to get a copy of ‘How to Improve Your Memory in just 48hrs’?”
What if I told you that you could get a program that not only remembered all of these passwords for you, it also generated the random digits for you to use? And you could lock all of these passwords in a highly encrypted database that requires you to only remember one password to unlock? What if I told you that not only can you put the database on a USB drive, but the whole program itself will run off a USB drive? How much would you have to pay for this? $500? Nope. $250? No, not even close. $99.99? Lower. $10? How about free!
The program is called KeePass. It is open source and available for absolutely free. Lets take a look…
First thing you need to do is download it from here. Get whatever is the newest version, at the time of this writing it is 2.13, so the rest of the directions will be based on that version.
Install it and open it. You will see a pretty boring looking screen, click File | New. This is where you are creating the encrypted database that stores your passwords. You will want to keep it somewhere that it is easily accessible. I keep mine on a USB drive that I have with me at all times. This way I can access the same password database from multiple computers.
It is then going to ask you for a Master Password. Do not make this one too easy as it is the key to the rest of your passwords. However do not make it something you will easily forget. If you forget this Master Password, you will not be able to access your other passwords. Trust me, I know from experience, you do not want to forget this.
On the next window, the defaults should be sufficient, just click Ok.
That is it, you now have an encrypted database for your passwords. Lets look at creating a good password, this feature is built into KeePass.
I am going to create a website password, so I will go to the Internet folder on the left, and then click the Key icon and select Add Entry.
The Title can be whatever you like, that is just how it is displayed in KeyPass. Put in your username. Now for password, you can make up your own, or you can click on the key icon beside it and open password generator. This can be a bit confusing though, I usually just click on Generate using Profile and select how long of a password you want. I am going to use 128bit for this exampt. If you click the … icon, it will show you the characters.
Mine generated 4549430f09405cd34d011683d0ae1561. A pretty good password if you ask me. Now you need to change your password on whatever site to this. I cannot talk you through that part as it is different for each site (see below for how to use the password). Once you get the password changed, just click ok. You also have the option at the bottom for the password to expire, this will give you a reminder to change the password.
To use the password, you would right click on the entry and select Copy Password. You then go to the website and right click in the password field and click Paste. Some websites will not let you right click, in this case use CTRL+V to paste.
That’s it, you now have a secure password! And KeePass will store as many of those as you need. You can organize them however you like, I just use the default folder scheme. When you close KeePass be sure to click Save or your password will be lost. Also, make sure you back this database up, if you are a client of ours, that usually just means to store it on your F: drive. However it does not hurt to keep it in My Documents and on a flash drive as well.