Sunday, November 11, 2007

Keep your passwords safe and secure on any OS

To really keep your local and online accounts secure, you need a different complex password for every account. This is where "KeePass Password Safe" comes into play.

This program is open source and available for Linux, Mac, Windows, Blackberry, PocketPC, PalmOS, and could be easily compiled on other platforms. I'm of course going to cover the Linux version, which comes in the Ubuntu repositories by default.

Here's a feature list:

* Extensive management- title for each entry for its better identification
- possibility to determine different expiration dates
- insertion of attachments
- user-defined symbols for groups and entries
- fast entry dublication
- sorting entries in groups
* Search function
- search either in specific groups or in complete database
* Autofill (experimental)
* Database security
- access to the KeePassX database is granted either with a password, a key-file (e.g. a CD or a memory-stick) or even both.
* Automatic generation of secure passwords
- extremely customizable password generator for fast and easy creation of secure passwords
* Precaution features- quality indicator for chosen passwords- hiding all passwords behind asterisks
* Encryption- either the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) or the Twofish algorithm are used
- encryption of the database in 256 bit sized increments
* Import and export of entries
- import from PwManager (*.pwm) and KWallet (*.xml) files- export as textfile (*.txt)
* Operating system independent
- KeePassX is cross platform, so are the databases, as well
* Open Source- source code is open for anyone
- KeePassX is freeware

To install the program, you can either use the command line and do a quick "sudo apt-get install keepassx", or use the add/remove applications program and search for it in there. It's a fairly small and quick install.

The first time you run the program you'll need to create a new database. You have the option to secure the database with a password, with a keyfile, or with a combination of the two. The best way to secure it would be with a combination of password and key file. For the key file you can use any file. An mp3 is a great option, because no one would ever suspect that it's being used to secure your database. (unless they read this)

From the main dialog, you can start adding your accounts, which can be added to the pre-made categories. You can also create new groups if the provided groups don't fit your needs.

Adding a new account is very simple, as you can see below. If you have an existing password, you can paste it into the dialog, or if you want to create a password, there is a great built in password generator.

The default password length is 20 characters. I've found that many websites only allow a maximum of 15, so you may need to decrease this. The default length can be changed from the options menu. You can select exactly which characters you want to use in your passwords, in case the accounts you use don't support certain characters.

This is a really great program, and I highly recommend it! Enjoy your new password manager.

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