We deal with a lot of systems all around the world, and every single one for every single user has a different password. I certainly hope YOU have a different password for each website!
Why should you have a different password for each website? Because websites and passwords get leaked all the time. So say your password to your favorite cooking forum website gets leaked. That leak may contain your username and password, and if you reuse that username and password for other websites … well, guess what’s going to happen? Random anonynerds are going to log in all over the place as you.
Various major leaks:
So how are you supposed to remember different passwords? I remember over 1,000 passwords. Am I a genius? Of course, but aside from that do I have some sort of incredible memory? What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, passwords.
No, I don’t have an incredible memory. But my memory is good enough to let me remember one really long, really good password. And that’s all I need. Well, plus Dropbox and KeePass.
Here’s the formula:
KeePass + DropBox
We use a encrypted password database (KeePass) to store all our secrets. We use a file sharing service (DropBox) to keep that database shared between all our devices (laptops, desktops, phones).
Here’s how it all works.
Step 1: Get Dropbox
Sign up, install it, figure out how it works. Also install it on your smartphone.
Step 2: Get KeePass
Click Downloads on the left and grab the PORTABLE version. Classic or Pro? It doesn’t matter. Unzip it to a folder in Dropbox called KeePass.
Now fire up the KeePass program and create a new database. When it starts up for the first time, you’ve got nothing to work with, so hit File / New and create a new database. It’ll ask you WHERE to save it, of course make sure you save it in the same Dropbox / Keepass folder!
The next step will be to create a Master Password. THIS is the ONE AND ONLY password to need to remember from here on. Make it a doozy, like this:
this is a really long password!!!
Seriously, that is a GREAT password. With spaces and !!! and exactly like it looks.
After you click OK, it’ll drop you into the Database Settings page. You can type stuff in or just skip this by clicking OK again
Now you’ll be looking at your fresh new KeePass database with a couple of sample entries and folders. It isn’t rocket science, right-click on stuff and see what happens.
For example, right-click some empty white space on the right and select Add New Entry.
Type in the URL (website address) and Username, and what I suggest you do is LET KEEPASS CREATE YOUR PASSWORDS FOR YOU.
Click the little gold key icon on the right:
Make Length of generated password at least 16, longer is better, and click some of the things below. It’ll randomize a password for you. Click OK and it’ll insert it in that last database entry you were working on.
Ok, so if this is really a new website you’re signing up for, copy / paste that password into that site’s signup page.
Here’s where it gets useful. A lot of web browsers will save your username / password automatically, which is handy, but what happens if you’re using a new PC? Easy, go to the login page for the site, open KeePass and find the entry.
RIGHT-CLICK on that entry and you’ll see the options to COPY USERNAME and COPY PASSWORD to the clipboard. Go back to the website and PASTE! That’s the magic. No more remembering and typing in passwords, just copy and paste them from KeePass.
So far, so awesome.
Now why did we bother with Dropbox? So you never lose your KeePass database. If your laptop kicks the bucket, just fire up a new laptop, log into Dropbox and your KeePass files will be there. Oh yeah, I should mention this good tip, make your Dropbox the SAME password as your KeePass database. That way you’re still only remembering ONE big long password.
The second reason we’re using Dropbox is so your KeePass database is portable and accessible on your phone. Go to your phone’s app store and look for “keepass”, you’ll find some. Install them on your phone.
Now fire up Dropbox on your phone and find your KeePass folder. “Star” it so Dropbox keeps that file always synced to your phone. Open the database file, and your phone’s KeePass app should automatically start up. On Android it looks like this: