How to always know your password (to anything, from anywhere).

If you’re like me, you probably have accounts on hundreds of different websites.   Everything ranging from online banking, email, social networking, and even your wifi router has it’s own password.    You may use the same password for everything (which apparently 61% of people do), although this is far from secure.   If someone were to compromise just one of your accounts, well it wouldn’t be hard for them to find the others by first checking your email, then your social networking, and so on.   Alternatively, you can use a series of very simple passwords, like dictionary words, although this is not very secure either as this is the first set of attempts a hacker will make.

So, you ask, what do you propose as a solution?   Well, Microsoft has published a nice guide to what makes a secure password.   I have used this approach for a while, picking a sentence and then using the first letter of each word to form my password, sprinkling in some numbers as I replace “to” to “2” and “I” with 1.   It works pretty well, but even then, I still forget from time to time.

Enter, Dropbox and Keepass.   This solution works great, and will give you virtually universal access to any password, any time you need it.   Even things like pin numbers for your ATM, and door codes for your home garage door could be plugged in for those of us who are especially forgetful.

Dropbox is a cloud storage service.   When you install it, it will create a folder on your desktop called “My Dropbox”.  Then, as you add this software to other computers (with the same account), that folder will appear on those workstations as well.   Should you place a file (word document, mp3, etc) in your dropbox folder, this will automatically then be available on all your other dropbox-enabled computers as well.   Neat, huh?

Dropbox screenshot

Keepass is a password database application.   It has a great user interface, and is very simple to use.   Some of you may be hestitant at the thought of storing all your passwords in one location, but rest assured, using Keepass is likely much more secure than your current approach if you are not.   Keepass will auto-generate strong passwords for you to use (if you wish) and will keep these stored for you safely.    The encryption used by this application is the strongest available, and meets even the standards of the NSA.

Keepass screenshot

Once you have both Keepass and Dropbox setup, you can create a new database file in Keepass, and the trick is to save that Keepass database in your Dropbox account.   Then, any machine you install Keepass on, you’ll be able to access all your passwords and update your password list from any machine.   Awesome, right?   Just remember to pick a strong password for Keepass, as this is the only one you should need to remember.

Taking it a step further, you can also download KeepassDroid (Android) and MyKeePass (iPhone) to take your passwords on the go with you as well.   Just be sure to also download Dropbox for android or iPhone and point your mobile Keepass app to use the database in the dropbox folder on your phone.


Kyle Ballard

Kyle is a software developer with 15+ years of experience and holds Microsoft and Salesforce developer certifications. He is also a spouse, father, aspiring home chef, and technology enthusiast.