Manage Your Passwords
Updated product information March 2010.
We all do it—reuse the same password for dozens of sites and services online. And you probably already know it’s not the best idea if you want to keep your accounts secure. Unfortunately many of us have trouble keeping track of even a few passwords, much less the dozens that would be required to have a different one for every site and service. Thankfully there are password management programs that can store all of your passwords for you safely under one master password.
First, make sure that you have a strong master password for your password management system that will protect your list of passwords. A strong password must have at least 8 characters (the longer the better), with a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and, if the site or service allows, special characters (such as !, #, ?). And use the same process when creating passwords for each site that you will be logging into.
Check out this video from Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at SophosLabs, for a simple demonstration of creating a strong password that will be easy to remember:
Once you've got your master password figured out, the next step is to set up your password manager. A password manager will store your passwords and user names in an encrypted database, allowing you to quickly recall them without retyping.
The Mozilla Firefox Web browser has a built-in password manager, though make sure you create a master password to protect your list. Other browsers—Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome—can remember passwords for you, but they do not have a manager or master password to protect your passwords, so it’s best to use a dedicated program.
If you have an Internet protection software suite, such as Norton 360, there may already be a dedicated password program included. Otherwise, there are a number of standalone programs you can purchase that will automatically run within your Web browser or can easily be accessed through a toolbar or button.
Kaspersky Password Manager (PC only)
Saves passwords and personal data on your computer or to a USB key that you can then use securely on any computer. It also autofills forms and auto-generates strong passwords for you. It even provides an onscreen keyboard to foiled keyloggers, for those times when you need to manually input sensitive information.
$25 at Kaspersky.com.
RoboForm (PC only). RoboForm can autofill just about any online form, including e-mail, name, phone number, and credit card info. A new free companion product, RoboForm Online, keeps all your passwords in order across several PCs, though you’ll need copies of RoboForm for each computer. The free version of RoboForm only stores 10 log-ons, which makes it all but unusable for most people.
$29 at Amazon.com
1Password (Mac only). Saves passwords, credit card numbers, account registration information, just about anything you can think of, and autofills it all across most browsers on a Mac, including Safari, Firefox, and Camino. It even has a free companion application for the iPhone and iPod touch that will sync with your desktop and stop you from having to peck out your passwords on that tiny touchscreen keyboard.
Single Computer: $40, 5 Computers: $70 at AgileWebSolutions.com
KeePass/KeePassX (Free, PC, Mac, Linux). KeePass requires you to copy and paste your info each time you want to login, and, sadly, can't auto-fill your personal information into online forms. But the advantage of KeePass is that it's not just for websites and services. You can put in your wireless security key, ATM PINs, and other non-web data. It can even be installed on a USB key and carried with you from PC to PC.
Download Now from KeePass.info