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Why I love KeePass

Why I love KeePass

With the holidays upon us, I decided to give you something short and incredibly helpful, which you can put to use right away. In fact, you could just navigate to http://keepass.info/ and skip the rest of this, but you probably want to know why.

UPDATE: There’s been recent news related to a previous topic, and I’d like to bring you up to date before continuing with this week’s entry. In the March 7 TNT, we discussed “the demise of the telephone line.” One sign of the times was the ongoing work dispute between Verizon management and its union of landline employees, which resulted in a strike last August. The employees spoke about Verizon’s profits, but the company looked at the collapse of its landline division and required concessions. Verizon’s workers are back on the job, but the union and the company have yet to reach an agreement.

Should AT&T fail to reach a new contract with the Communications Workers of America by 12:01 AM on Sunday, April 8, it too may find itself facing a large strike from its landline workers. AT&T, similar to Verizon, is trying to reduce costs in a division that is saddled with outdated, legacy technology.

TNT: We have talked about security several times. You know that sites can get hacked, and if that happens, a password you use in one place might come back to haunt you on a totally different site. It’s a highly recommended best practice to use a different password on every website, email, and other account you may have.

Practically speaking, it’s also impossible to remember that many passwords. It suppose it depends on how actively you use e-commerce, banking, email and other websites, but I personally have about 70 different passwords in different places, and when I follow recommended security practices, those passwords look like “nPSaJ`SUey772?hZjA’5” rather than, say, “Joshua” (extra credit to anyone who knows in which movie this password was used).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Writing down all these passwords and carrying them with you is a bad idea. The pickpocket who steals your wallet now has all your passwords — and you quite possibly don’t.

A much better alternative is KeePass, found at http://keepass.info/ . KeePass will help you organize and store passwords, divided into groups of entries such as home, email, online banking, and others of your choosing. It will automatically generate a secure password; you can customize the length, and conform to requirements of those sites which require or prohibit punctuation in your passwords. All you have to do is remember a single password into your local database, which, because you only use it on your local devices, can be less complex. With versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, plus iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm, Windows Phone 7 and J2ME, you’d have a hard time finding a “smart” device without a KeePass version.

WHAT TO DO: Install it! Be sure all your devices can support version 2, otherwise install version 1 for now (both are available on the site). Version 2 supports automatic synchronization between devices; but with any of them, you can make corrections on your main computer and save copies of the password database elsewhere.

I happened to mention this subject to a tech-savvy friend of mine just a few moments ago, and he told me that he’s using KeePass on everything, and using DropBox to synchronize his password database.

I won’t be offended should you not email to express your gratitude, or even if you choose a different password manager. But I would be saddened to hear from someone saying, “I didn’t install KeePass, and guess what happened…”

Wishing you a profitable week,

Ken

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