#7 - Why you should use a password safe

Links, Code, and Transcript

In this episode we are going to take a look at password management. Having a password safe, sometimes called a vault, can be a simple and effective tool for securely storing your teams passwords. We are going to discuss what a password safe is, why you should use one, and then look at a live demo.

We are on the website of an extremely popular password safe for windows, called, you guessed it, password safe. A password safe is essentially a password protected database, where you can store information like, logins, passwords, and web site urls.

It’s great for teams that are required to manage many passwords. Rather than everyone keeping passwords in their head, you only need to remember the password to the password safe. You might be surprised, or even shocked, when you start to catalogue everything. Once you start using a password safe, and someone asks for a particular password, your default response should be, check the safe.

While password safe is very popular on Windows, Keepass and KeepassX are very popular on Mac, Linux, and there is also a Windows port. They are also all free and open source software to boot. The interfaces are essentially the same, and since I’m running Linux, I’ll demo KeePassX today.

Alright, let me show you what a password safe looks like.

When you start the password safe, you’ll be presented with a dialogue box, asking for the password. After entering the password, you’ll see a a GUI with three pains, on the left hand side, you’ll see a tree like structure, this is can be used to categorize or group your passwords. In this example, we’re using Network, Servers, and Management, but you can also have sub-groups. You can right click in here to add group, sub-groups, and password entries.

The right hand pane, is used to store the actual password entries. So, under the network category, we have entries for routers, switches, and wifi. You can also add entries, by simply, right clicking.

Let me just click through some of these menus so you can a feel for how it works. You can see under the management category, we could have entries for things like domain registrars, internal monitoring interfaces, and vendor websites.

Lets jump over to the server category, and take a look at what a password entry looks like. Here, you have a ability to right click on an entry and copy various information to the clip board, this can be useful for pasting the password from your clipboard without actually having to type it.

Lets go ahead and open this item up.

There is a title field where you can explain what this entry is for, username, url, password fields, and a notes section. As you can see the password is obscured, but you can view the password, but clicking this icon. A cool feature, is this “gen” icon here, this opens the password generator, by selecting these check boxes, you can generate different types of passwords, down here you can also select the password length. Lets go ahead and generate a password and see what it looks like. I always, like to save the database after making any changes.

A password safe can be helpful to free your mind, and improve communication within your team. Now that you know about password safe, I hope you’ll start to use one. Just remember, when someone asks for a password, your default response should be, check the safe.

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