KeePass – Free & Easy Password Protection

KeePass Logo
KeePass Logo

If you have an online account, most likely you have to have a password to access that account. The trick is how do you create a password that is easy to remember, but not easy for someone else to guess?

Some of us have used important dates in our lives, maiden names, names of our kids, phone numbers, street addresses, or things like password123, letmein, or 1234. Unfortunately, in this age, it is easy for criminals find all this information, and they know to try to words like ‘password’ or ‘letmein.’ Thanks to social media, and public access to many records, it doesn’t take long to search out maiden names, birthdates, anniversaries, etc.

So we are then forced to come up with complicated passwords such as r9G3jc9vVnw23da3. Unfortunately, this random password is a challenge to remember. So we write it down and hide it under our keyboards or in a nearby desk drawer.

Unfortunately, criminals know about our inability to remember passwords and our need to write them down and have them handy. So they will take the time to look under keyboards and in desk drawers to find them.

While this is an aside from the purpose of this article, I want to share a true story with you. I had a coworker who kept her password list on her desk. She told me that because she had about 16 potential passwords written on list, someone wanting to get on her computer would have a hard time guessing her password. I looked and her list and then entered on of the passwords on her list. It immediately opened her computer and I had complete access to her files.

So what is a person to do? My recommendation is get yourself a password vault like KeePass. While you can buy a password vault from a commercial company, KeePass is a popularly recommended password vault that is absolutely free.

What a password vault does is it securely stores your passwords in an encrypted format. These means, unless you are the NSA or have access to sophisticated computer hardware, the passwords cannot be unencrypted unless you have the password for the vault.

To use the KeePass vault, you first create a data file that can be stored on your computer, a flash drive, or even on a cloud drive such a Dropbox. Then you assign a key password for that file. Without this password, you will not be able to access the vault file. So if you forget it, all your passwords will be lost to you. There is no reset option for the vault password.

There is another risk with using a password vault. If your vault password falls into the wrong hands, the will have access to all the passwords you have stored in the vault. So make sure if you write down your password, you keep it in a safe place far from your computer. You will also have to make the password that is hard to guess.

Once you pick a good password, can enter the information about the web account and have the have the program generate a random password for you. Then cut and password into the password entry field of the account when you create the web account or into the password field after you go through the steps to change your password for that account.

If you have a hard time remember complicated passwords, try KeePass. For more information visit  http://keepass.info/help/base/index.html and http://keepass.info/screenshots.html

Web of Trust

Another web application I like it W.O.T. (aka Web of Trust) – http://www.mywot.com/

This web application is installed as an add on to your web browser. What is does it helps you evaluate the trustworthiness of a site or url. This is indicated by a circle located by an URL link for example in Facebook or a Google search, and in the upper right hand corner of your web browser.image of a google  The circle will be either a gray (no ranking), red (poor ranking), yellow (caution ranking), and green (high ranking). Naturally, you want to stay away from any site with a red circle, and you should feel relatively safe with any site with a green circle.

As you can see, the right hand image shows this website with a yellow ranking. How did this site get a yellow ranking? The way the ranking works, is that visitors who have a WOT account can rank a site in the following areas: Trustworthiness,  Vendor Reliability, Privacy, and Child Protection.

Currently I show yellow in the first three categories. Users who visited the older version of this website had negative experiences because of a WordPress add on called Buddy Press. I failed to keep that portion of the website adequately updated and my site was hacked and misused. Hence I earned that rating through my mistakes.

So why am I putting up on a post on a product that actually steers people away from my website? No, it is not to get WOT to raise my score. It is because the application did what it was suppose to do. Based on my poor rating, it told people my website was suspect, reducing the number of people who could have been harmed by those who hacked my site.

For those of you who are asking is my site safe now, it is as safe as I can make it. I erased everything from the old version of the website and did not re-install buddypress because of my failure to properly maintain the program, not because anything the makers of the add-on did or didn’t do. I also have do not collect information on any visitor to the site.  I have never shared information from this site with anyone. 

…as far as my WOT score turning green, that is up to you. As WOT says to website owners, trust is earned. I hope I earn your trust….