Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Password Storage Done Right

Storing & managing passwords is really hard these days. Passwords are easier to crack. Breaches to one system mean other accounts can be exposed. Even the FBI's most wanted can't get it right.

Even the systems you might depend on break.

Best Practices for Passwords

Lets just review best practices for passwords:
  1. Use a complex password. A complex password is one that doesn't include dictionary words or common phrases that might be used in a dictionary attack. This is getting hard as previously uncommon phrases can become part of a new dictionary. Ideally use a random password.
  2. Use a long password. This will help defend against dictionary attacks.
  3. Don't use the same password. Ever. This is because if the password is broken in one system, it can be used to log into the other systems.

It needs to...

Just to make things easier, I personally use a range of platforms so I'm looking for something that runs on:
  • Windows
  • OSX
  • iOS
I also need to be able to retrieve, add and edit passwords on any platform. Changes on any one platform should sync to all other others.

It doesn't need to...

I'm not looking for something that integrates directly into the browser. I'm concerned that something that is directly integrated into the browser is too much of a target for attack. This knocks out using something like Chrome to store passwords, aside from the issue that it can only store web based passwords.

Password based services like LastPass are also an issue, given that someone cracking LastPass can then access your entire set of passwords. These systems are a huge target.


Best practices are to use a password manager. Syncing was once a challenge, but now with platforms like google drive and dropbox are far easier.

So I use:

  1. KeePass2 - works on Windows
  2. MacPass - works on OSX
  3. KyPass3 - works on iOS
  4. Dropbox - to sync them everywhere
KyPass 3 supports syncing with a dropbox folder and the other apps just talk to the filesystem. It's an awesome solution that lets you view / edit your passwords anywhere.


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