Password Keepers

Not long ago, if you watched my rapid-fire pounding of passwords on a keyboard, you might have assumed I was a sloppy typist. Or it may have appeared that I was trying to prevent you from deciphering my password by quickly thumping several keys + ENTER again and again. The truth was that I only had only five passwords to logon to every cyber-secure area of my life: My variety of passwords was so limited, that trying them all -quickly in a row required less time than I would need to remember which password went with which web site or software logon.

The dangerous truth was that I didn't want to memorize more than five passwords. I knew that the more passwords I created, the more likely I would be to forget them. I foolishly ignored the bigger danger of an evil shoulder-surfer discovering that any one of my passwords could grant full access to a good number of my "secure" logons.

I briefly considered password programs to help me store more passwords, but concluded they were inconvenient and a waste of time. After all, they required yet another password -an irony that fueled my refusal to use them!

A friend eventually convinced me test one such program. Skeptical, I tried Password Administrator, by DigiQuirk, ($19.99). After over a year of use, I'm hooked. Password Administrator has an easy-to understand, simple interface that allows you to manage an unlimited number of passwords in a database that stores your passwords in encrypted form. It launches in an instant and is searchable -my favorite feature. With nothing to memorize, I can use stronger, varying passwords with no fear of forgetting them. I need only to remember one password for one program.

With this freedom comes responsibility. There are two critical "musts" when using password software:

1. Diligence - You must invest the ten to fifteen seconds necessary to enter every new password you create into your database. I realize this can be tough amidst the anticipation of buying something online, but the investment will pay off next time you shop and you can't remember your password for that web site.

2. Backup - saving your password database to a CD or other location is the only thing that will save you if your database becomes lost or damaged.

If you resist having a variety of passwords because you don't trust your memory, consider using software to give you the freedom and security to create many more passwords. New passwords will make your logons more secure and the minimal effort it takes to maintain password software pays off in peace of mind and welcome relief from memory strain.

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