There has been lots of talk lately about company server hacks. You have probably heard about the Sony incident where millions of data sets were downloaded by hackers. Last Pass, the company behind the password manager of the same name, noticed irregularities as well and asked their users to change the master passwords of their account.
A local password manager like KeePass would have been especially helpful in the LastPass case, as your data would not be exposed on the Internet at all. The fundamental difference between online and offline password managers is the storage location and responsibility. Online password managers like LastPass store the account logins and information in the cloud, while offline password managers store login related information on the user’s computer.
The responsibility lies therefor either by the company who stores the passwords on their servers, or on the individual user who uses a local password manager to store the account information.
KeePass is a free password manager for the Windows operating system. The developing company is furthermore offering ports for many popular mobile devices including Android, iPhone or Windows Phone 7.
Best of all, KeePass can be installed or run directly as a portable application. The latter is helpful if you want to run your password manager on other computer systems. Just copy KeePass on an USB stick or even burn it to CD or DVD to access your login information on other Windows systems.
All login information can be protected with a master password, keyfile or linked to a Windows user account. It is possible to combine multiple protection options for that extra bit of security.
Existing passwords can be imported from various password managers and as generic CSV files. It is for instance possible to export your LastPass password list and import it into KeePass.
Keepass stores passwords in databases. You can maintain multiple databases if you like, or add all your log ins to one database. Passwords are stored in groups that you can freely created. You could for instance put your Facebook, Twitter and Google login information into the Internet group, and your eBay and Amazon login information in the Shopping group.
Each database entry consists of a title, web address, username, password and notes. You can optionally select to set an expiration date for passwords which acts as a reminder that you need to change your password.
The password strength is shown on individual log in entries which acts as a quality indicator.
Working with KeePass
You have two options here. You can first copy and paste login information, that means username and password, manually whenever you open a login page on the Internet, or you can install one of the available browser plugins to improve the usability.
The extensions are available for popular browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. They are linked to the KeePass software and improve the login process on the Internet in those browsers.
KeePass has a few additional features that make it a great security software. It comes with a password generator, to create secure passwords. You can use it to create specifically defined passwords. Available options for the password generation include using upper and lower case characters, digits and special characters. It is furthermore possible to select the length of the password and add custom characters that the program will consider as well for the password generation.
KeePass is without doubt a well designed local password manager. It comes with all the bells and whistles that one would expect from a password manager. It is not as comfortable as using an online password manager like LastPass, that is, unless you install a browser plugin.
The program is an excellent choice for users who want to store passwords on their local system, and not in the cloud.