Password Management

Overview Nowadays, passwords are just as essential to our lives as our house and car keys are. However, while we usually can fit our house and car keys on a small keychain, we can very easily own an almost unlimited number of passwords. Too many Web sites, whether it’s that of our bank, our electric or phone company, or our favorite department store, require us to open an online account with a unique user ID and password. How often do you ask yourself, “Where are my keys?” It’s very likely that you’ve also asked yourself, “What’s my password for this account?” For guidance on creating, storing, and remembering secure passwords, click the links below.

General Resources on Password Policies Wikipedia describes what the term “password policy” encompasses in this Web page (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_policy).

Examples of strong passwords and passwords to avoid are at this Microsoft Web site (www.microsoft.com/athome/security/privacy/password.mspx). This site provides a very useful feature -- a password checker, which indicates the strength of your password (from weak to very strong) as you type each letter, number, or symbol. Also included are valuable tips on what to do if your password is stolen.

IBM offers its own guidelines on creating effective passwords at
www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/library/s-pass.html?n-s-9122
, including password schemes for home-based personal computers and work-related systems and networks. This P-Synch.com link (psynch.com/docs/password-management-best-practices.html) covers best password practices for enterprise networks. This Free Software Magazine article
(www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/passwd_management) suggests grouping passwords into low, medium, and high-risk systems for easier and smarter management.

Password Managers Another way to manage passwords effectively is using a special type of utility software called a password manager, which generates random passwords for you and keep tracks of your accounts at different Web sites. You can read up on how random password generation is accomplished at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_password_generator.

This TopTenREVIEWS link presents a glossary of password management software terms that it uses to rate and review the top ten commercial password managers. You can find a list of free password manager software at www.tech-faq.com/password-manager.shtml. At www.findapp.com/fMgmt/products.aspx?C=303, you can download not only password managers but also password recovery software.