The modern digital world requires us to keep and maintain an ever-growing list of usernames, passwords, PINS, etc to protect our digital identities. Ideally you will use a different passwords on every computer system, website, and digital service you use. If you don’t and a thief discovers one of your passwords he/she will pretty soon have drained your bank account and run wild with your credit card.
One of the keys to your digital safety and security is the consistent use of good passwords. Good passwords are composed of strings of upper & lower case characters, special characters, and numbers that are hard for an attacker to guess. By their very nature, good passwords are hard for the average person to remember. So, unless you’ve got the memory of a savant you’ll find yourself struggling to remember the vast number of good passwords that are required these days.
I’m sure some of you will say that this isn’t really a problem since you keep a tidy list of all your website usernames, passwords and PINs in a safe place. I will counter and say that unless the list is in a safe deposit box that you’re in grave danger of data or identity theft. If you’ve only got one copy of the list you’re also at risk of a huge inconvenience should the list ever get lost or stolen! While a written list of passwords in a safe deposit box is a good idea it’s not too useful. What you really need is known as a password manager that will keep your list safe and secure on your hard disk or USB key.
A little work with our friend Google will reveal the existence of innumerable programs to handle this essential task. My personal favorite is the simple and free program called KeePass. With KeePass you can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password to access all your passwords in the database. The databases are encrypted using some of the best and most secure encryption algorithms now known (AES and Twofish). There are flavors of Keepass that will work on nearly all operating systems.
Of course KeePass isn’t the only option so feel free to look around and find what works best for you. The main point is to start using good passwords and to keep them somewhere besides that sticky note on the monitor!