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

Suspicious URLS’s and Files?

One of my new tools in my layered security blanket is a site called virsustotal. What is great about virus_totalthis website is that you can take a link in an email, copy and paste it into the search field and then scan it without harming your computer. (Note: you have to click on the scan URL link below the scan button to switch from the default scan file mode.)

The other plus is you can download a file from a website, and have it scanned by not one many different antivirus vendors.

virus_total_2It should be noted that this website application does not “guarantee” that the program you download is not a virus, worm, trojan, or malware. In fact no antivirus program can provide 100% protection, but it does provide another layer of security.