Password Managers: Tuck Your Passwords Away

Have you ever found yourself buried under heaps of handwritten notes trying to remember your PayPal password? I guess some of you have chosen to use just one password for all your accounts to avoid all that trouble – and, well, it does take some of the pain away. But on the other hand using the same password for all your accounts and records is a sure way to get hacked. You could still use different unguessable combinations of letters, numbers, and punctuation as passwords – you just need to keep them securely stored in one place by means of using a software password manager. Let's have a look at some of them and see which one does its job best.

KeePass

Its main asset is that it's an open-source tool. KeePass provides you with a lightweight database to keep your passwords in, and it encrypts it, giving those insidious intruders no chance to open it without a master password or key file. Moreover, besides storing the passwords, the program gives you some other options: you can categorize passwords and copy them to a web form, another application, or the clipboard. It also lets you easily search for your passwords and print them out in different formats, including TXT, HTML, XML, and CVS files.

KeePass: Add Entry

I'd call KeePass a magic wand especially for newcomers, as it's very easy to use, unrestricted, incredibly secure, and totally free. It's really worth your while, there's nothing to add.

Steganos Password Manager

Being the best-selling password manager out there, it's got to be something good: you have to pay almost 16 bucks for it. The whole idea of this software is actually the same as that of KeePass. Besides providing you with a secure place to store your data, Steganos Password Manager also generates unique and strong passwords for any purpose and then encrypts them, making them accessible only with a master password or a specially formatted USB stick. Moreover, the app includes a virtual keyboard, so you won't fall victim to keyloggers when you're entering the master password.

Steganos Password Manager: Main Window

Still, as much as Steganos Password Manager seems to be worth investing in, when you compare it with KeePass, which is a free app, there's not actually that much of a difference. Sure, it has a virtual keyboard – but is there anything else to justify the purchase?

Passware Kit Professional

Actually, this app's main intended purpose is not to manage your passwords, but rather the opposite: Passware Kit Professional is designed to recover all kinds of lost and forgotten passwords for various webpages and password-protected documents, which you can then save somewhere or print. In fact, the app goes even further and allows you to scan your computer for protected files and reset their passwords. Not bad, isn't it? Yea, but there are two things to keep in mind. First of all, these options will cost you a pretty penny, no less than $200. And secondly, the password you need to recover should still be recorded somewhere on your PC – in your browser cache, temp files, anywhere. Still, even if the price is somewhat, erm, mind-blowing, when you need to remember a password to your online bank account, it may be well worth the trouble. Beggars can't be choosers, you know.

Passware Kit Professional: Main Window

I must warn you, though: whatever the developers of these password managers may promise, none of them is a 100% guarantee against hackers. The only thing I can recommend is that you keep the most information in your head and make it a long-term memory, something you cannot forget. In short, keep things to yourself and you'll be out of harm's way.

What is your experience with password managers?
Discussion

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9 comments
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Surprised to not see RoboForm listed here, they were the first on the market and are still the most widely used. They are also the only password manager to offer live phone support, available 12 hours a day from right here in my home state of VA! I have been using RoboForm for years and now access it on all of my various computers, external drives, tablet and smart phone for one fee with the new RoboForm Everywhere license. I highly recommend RoboForm.

Reply   |   Comment by rfsnowball  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

I personally use SplashData's SplashID Safe particularly the business edition. It is excellent for multiple user level password management. As a long-time developer, they provide highly secure and specialized versions for better user advantage.

Reply   |   Comment by saaron011  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

One thing to keep in mind is that "unguessable" really means completely random nowadays. What that means is that any password with a pattern you can memorize is no longer safe to use due to advances hackers have been making with password cracking tools.

Folks should take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to start using a password manager.

Dave -- Founder Trust-Inn.com

Reply   |   Comment by David Hess  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

I'm surprised that the author does not mention PasswordSafe, another Open Source password manager.

Both PasswordSafe and KeePass use Twofish encryption, but only PasswordSafe was originated by Bruce Schneier and his colleagues at CounterPane (the originators of the Twofish algorithm). Schneier released it into the Open Source community in late 2001, and I've been a volunteer participant in the QA side of the project since 2003. The developers and testers on the project are all very concerned about minimizing vulnerabilities --- whether it be to keystroke loggers, debuggers and "memory spy" programs, or to attacks on the password databases themselves. I don't know how well vetted that KeePass is (it might be VERY carefully checked), but I DO know that PasswordSafe has been examined and re-examined to avoid any weaknesses, including those against well-funded, smart, concerted efforts to break the database format and retrieve stored passwords.

It is also incredibly easy to use and very flexible in it's features. (I would, however, LOVE to see a "head to head" comparison review between the features of PasswordSafe and KeePass, since I don't know a lot about the latter. Alternatives and competition are good things, even if the software doesn't cost the user any money!)

Reply   |   Comment by forbin  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

I use KeePass and one of the reasons is that it connects seamlessly with my browser through plug-ins. I had a keylogger on my computer and it was able to collect my passwords because I copied them to the clipboard before pasting them into my browser. To be honest, the only reason we have so many passwords is because of the Internet. Why worry about all the latest and greatest hacking and cracking techniques when all I need to do is catch the data when you copy and paste it since it's what you're going to do every single time you use your password safe. Seems like that's a pretty significant vulnerability right there. And full disclosure: both my anti-virus and my HIPS detection let me install multiple (and different) keyloggers without any complaints.

Reply   |   Comment by Phantom Mojo  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

For me, TapIN is the best password manager. It works on the iPad and I find that it logs in automatically even faster than Chrome or Safari.

Reply   |   Comment by Ruby Boyarski  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

TapIN is Excellent!
Thank you Ruby.

Reply   |   Comment by Gil Meroz  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

I like LastPass.

Reply   |   Comment by Philip STanley  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)

As for me I've been using RoboForm for years))
It's odd that a popular app like this hasn't been reviewed.

Reply   |   Comment by Riyu  –  4 years ago  –  Was it helpful? yes | no (0)