Recently, there has been a spate of websites being hacked and passwords being exposed.
Although I do use unique passwords on all sites they all followed a rule which meant that, if one password was exposed, it wouldn’t take a genius to work out the others. I know that a lot of people use the same password for multiple online accounts. And who can blame them, I have found I have 59 different accounts (that I know of!) – who can remember that many unique passwords?
I decided it was time to come up with a better system. I wasn’t interested storing the passwords on my computer as I wouldn’t have access to them on my phone, or at work, or if I was using a friend’s computer.
I considered writing them down and carrying them in my wallet as has been suggested previously by Bruce Schneier, but I didn’t want to face the mad dash to change my passwords if I ever lost my wallet.
I came up with a system which will give you a secure(?) password for every site, but it has drawbacks. I may post the method later.
I did some research and found that it is possible to use a password manager and share the database via Dropbox which makes it available on all your computers and on your mobile phone. Problem solved!
Here are the steps you will need to follow to set it up for yourself.
- Sign up for a Dropbox account and install the client on your desktop computer. If you use this link, we both get some extra free space and I will be forever thankful to you – http://db.tt/4Db0HSpj
- Download KeePass from http://keepass.info/download.html It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. I suggest you download the Classic Edition rather than the Professional Edition as it will allow you to write passwords on your mobile (The professional edition will only allow read access from your phone)
- Install KeePass, following the wizard and run it when complete.
- Create a new database in KeePass by choosing File > New
- Choose a strong password as the master password – this will be the only password you need to remember.
- Repeat the password when prompted.
- You should now see the main KeePass window with categories under which you can save passwords.
- See the excellent Keepass FAQ for details on how to enter and generate secure passwords (it’s easy)
- Save the database to your local Dropbox folder.
- Close the desktop client.
- Download the Dropbox app for your phone and install it – enter the details you used when signing up for your dropbox account.
- Download the appropriate client for your mobile phone. I use Android, so downloaded KeePassDroid.
- Open the mobile Dropbox client and you should see the .kdb – click on it and it will open in KeePass.
- Enter the secure password you set up earlier and click ‘OK’
- You will now see the General group – click on it and you will see the same sub-groups which you saw in the desktop client. Once you have stored your passwords, you will be able to access them under the appropriate group.
So, now all my passwords are secure, how do I use them on my phone?
- Open the General group, then the Internet sub-group – you will see all your website logins.
- Click the site you want to access.
- In the notifications bar at the top of the screen, you will see two new entries with padlock symbols next to them: Copy username to clipboard and Copy password to clipboard
- Click the URL of the site and navigate to the login screen
- Choose ‘Copy username to clipboard’ from your notification area and paste it into the Username field on the Website
- Choose ‘Copy password to clipboard’ from your notification area and paste it into the Password field on the Website
- Click ‘Login’ – you are in the site without having to memorise your password!
Now, go and change all your passwords choosing secure, unique passwords and store them in your password manager. If a hacker gets one of your passwords, your other accounts will still be safe, and if you choose complex enough passwords, the hacker may not even be able to get your password at all if they are stored as hashes by the website.
If you’ve found this useful, please sign up to Dropbox using my link so we both get some extra free space! Thanks!