I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a million online accounts and a million passwords to access them. From banking to email to social networking, I literally have hundreds of usernames and passwords to keep straight.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to sign in to a website only to realize you don’t know the password. Well, I can think of one or two things that are worse than that, but I think you get my point.
The reason I bring this issue up is there’s an open source software program called KeePass that makes it easy to organize and access passwords for all your online accounts.
Of course, a big concern with the internet and especially personal accounts online is security. There is a great deal of sensitive information kept there and if it were to fall in the wrong hands could be a very big problem.
In order to keep your accounts as secure as possible, many experts suggest you don’t use the same password for all your accounts. Instead they recommend using different passwords for each. This is a difficult task when you start accumulating usernames and passwords for dozens of websites, so some sort of method is necessary to keep them all straight.
In the past I’ve used a couple different methods like writing them in a notebook or keeping them in a Microsoft OneNote file. Neither of these methods are very secure, so to counter that I made up a simple but effective coding system in case someone were to get ahold of the notebook or file.
My way works ok, but not great, which is why I thought I’d give KeePass a try. After downloading the software and setting up my account, I added a few passwords. There’s not a whole lot of flash to it, but there doesn’t need to be as long as your data is secure.
The part I really like about KeePass is how mobile it is. There are two different kinds of downloads. Either you can install the software on your computer (not very mobile), download a .zip file and store it on a thumb drive (pretty mobile), or with the help of some user-contributed plugins, use it directly on your BlackBerry, iPhone, or PocketPC (extremely mobile).
Because I use passwords on both home and work computers, mobility is key for me. I don’t like the idea of bogging down my hard drive with many software applications, so storing one copy on a thumb drive and taking it with me works best. I do this already with some other open-source software programs.
To Use it or Not To Use it
I really like this software as an internet tool, however, I probably won’t be making it my primary password system (at least not anytime real soon) for a couple reasons. Actually they’re more like excuses, but who’s counting.
The first is the effort it will take to set up. If you’re like me and already have a ton of accounts and passwords, setting them all up in KeePass would be very time consuming.
I think it would be a great resource once they were all entered, assuming I’d stay on top of updating it each time that I created a new account somewhere, but that’s a big assumption and probably isn’t likely.
The second reason is my concern about security. I trust KeePass’s security policies and have faith in their efforts to keep my passwords safe from hackers and such.
What I don’t have faith in is myself remembering a super-secure password without writing it down somewhere. And then if it were to fall into the wrong hands, that person would have not only the passwords but a complete list of the sites that I have accounts on.
The KeePass Predicament
This is the predicament as I see it: The experts say use a different password for all accounts. KeePass says “Use our software and only have to remember one password.”
Ok, so far so good.
But what happens when your one password is found, stolen, hacked, etc.? Now they don’t have only one bank account, they’ve got them all. And your email, and your Twitter account.
It’s a real “chicken or the egg” dilemma and I’m not sure I have the answer.
I haven’t completely made up my mind on KeePass yet, but my initial thought is for it to be worth using I’d have to set aside some time to get it started initially and then come up with a very, very secure password, commit it to memory and throw away the key. Otherwise there’s just too much at stake.
I’d like to hear what you think about password management software. Have you used it before? How well has it worked for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.