Economy of Effort

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Kee Pass

I admit it - for a long time, I have been using two passwords for everything. Neither were particularly strong passwords - both 8 characters or less, and only one wasn’t all letters. That has finally changed, thanks to a little program called KeePass.

KeePass is a free, open-source program for creating and managing passwords. It lets you create random passwords of any length, and saves them in an encrypted, password-protected database. The idea is that you memorize only one password (for the database), and then you create a bunch of random passwords that you don’t ever need to actually know - you just access them from KeePass when you need them. It lets you copy a password to the clipboard with a quick click, and then it clears the clipboard after 10 seconds (so that nobody can come along later and repeat the “Paste” action).

KeePass screenshot

KeePass is a Windows app, but has also been ported to Linux and Mac OS X. I haven’t tried the Mac version yet, but the Linux port is great - a near-perfect replication of the Windows version.

Now I have strong passwords for everything that matters, and even places that don’t. Even if you don’t use it for crazy strong passwords, it is useful for storing usernames and passwords for all your websites - because you can never get the same username and password for every site, and sometimes it’s hard to remember them for sites that you don’t go to everyday. It’s much nicer to have them stored in your KeePass database. And you can copy the database to a thumb drive and take your passwords with you - just install KeePass on the computer that you’re using (probably not a good solution for public terminals, but it’s great for going back and forth between a work PC and a home PC). Since the database is encrypted, you don’t have to worry about losing your thumb drive or having someone hop on your computer and pulling up the database - they’d have to break the encryption first. (Saving passwords in your browser might defeat that, but then at least you’re only exposed if they have physical access to your PC, and you pretty much are exposed in that event anyway).

It’s a great program, and if you get yourself in the habit of using it, it becomes a convenience much more than a hassle - especially for the ability to manage various usernames and passwords for different websites.