Securing Your Passwords

Note: This is a part of an online course on Securing Confidential Data.


Introduction
Creating and keeping track of passwords can be a genuine chore. In the case of the former, creating passwords, many do not know how to create passwords that are secure. In the case of the latter, keeping track of passwords, a secure password is often difficult to remember. This short overview will provide you with some tips and tricks for both creating and keeping track of passwords.

Creating Secure Passwords
Did you know that many of us use the same passwords? The 10 most commonly used passwords appear below:

10. "Baseball"
9. "111111"
8. "dragon"
7. "letmein"
6. "monkey"
5. "qwerty"
4. "abc123"
3. "12345678"
2. "123456"
1. "password"

Yet, you can easily create a password that is unique every time if you take advantage of a Secure Password Generator program, and then add your own spin on it! The secret to a good password, some say, is it's length and randomness.

Evaluate YOUR Toughest Password
I encourage you to pick your toughest password, the one you're sure no one would be able to crack, and drop it into a web site like How Secure is My Password? that will actually tell you. For example, one of my favorite approaches is to use book titles from literature. For example, To Kill a Mockingbird plus some numbers and special characters. 

Here's what my top secret password looks like:

To Kill a Mockingbird113#!!
It's a fairly easy password to remember, but I have to remember which letters I've capitalized, numbers entered, and special characters. If I run this through the How Secure is My Password? web site, I will get:

Two undecillion years!  But now that I have a secure password that would take years to crack, or for people to guess, how do I keep track of it?

Keeping Track of Your Secure Passwords
If you don't think you can remember all these passwords, use Keepassx--which you can put on Dropbox.com and access them from your phone--to store your passwords. That way, you can easily keep track of all your top-secret passwords and not have them written down on post-it notes or have them taped to your desk. Keepassx is easy to use encrypted database that works on Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS (e.g. iPad/iTouch), and Android devices.

From their web site:
KeePassX saves many different information e.g. user names, passwords, urls, attachments and comments in one single database. For a better management user-defined titles and icons can be specified for each single entry. Furthermore the entries are sorted in groups, which are customizable as well. The integrated search function allows to search in a single group or the complete database.

KeePassX offers a little utility for secure password generation. The password generator is very customizable, fast and easy to use. Especially someone who generates passwords frequently will appreciate this feature.

The complete database is always encrypted either with AES (alias Rijndael) or Twofish encryption algorithm using a 256 bit key. Therefore the saved information can be considered as quite safe. KeePassX uses a database format that is compatible with KeePass Password Safe. This makes the use of that application even more favourable.







Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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