I had previously written about finding a decent password manager before. I require passwords to be accessible from a number of locations so a stand alone desktop application isn’t suitable. I also have a requirement to share passwords with other people therefore a centralized authentication system would be a very nice thing to have. The Network Password Manager from Sowsoft is almost perfect for my requirements however it’s price tag makes it completely unrealistic for my comparitively small needs. It also transmit the passwords from the server to the client in plain text without any encription therefore IPSec is needed to add a layer of encription to this traffic. This isn’t a major problem however it provides an administrative overhead to a very simple component.
The PHP Password manager seemed to check all the boxes for me however it again required some extra configuration and the use of a browser and the HTTP protocol left a gaping whole in the solutions security. It also didn’t have folder views or decent password generation options. As I explained in the previous post on this topic I also rather using a windows based application for this as it allows for tighter integration.
I would like to introduce KeePass. This is a light weight open source and non-web based password manager application. It is also cross platform and is OSI certified. It supports 256bit AES encription and can authenticate using a password, certificate or Windows credentials. It has plenty of keyboard access and is also highly configurable. It is a very well written application and is worth considering if you require a resource for storing important passwords.
Unfortunately KeePass doesn’t support a centralized database at the moment however there are a number of options available if you require this functionality.
- Create a new database in your dropbox folder. This is usually in your documents folder.
- Use a cloud service such as or Amazon’s S3. with the KeeSync plug in. This plug in also supports SSH which is what has made KeePass such a viable solution for me. Thanks to the KeeSync plug in I have set KeePass up to syncronize it’s database back to one of my Linux servers. By using KeePass and KeeSync on the machines that I access I have access to an up to date password list where ever I go. Because there are portable versions of KeePass I can even bring it around with me on a pen drive if necessary.
Importantly, KeePass is also cross platform. It runs on Windows, Linux, Android and even the iPhone. I have not determined yet if or how I will get the most up to date database on these devices as I doubt a plug in is available or even possible on a mobile device. Regardless, the cross platform availability of this application makes it even more attractive. It is Murphy’s law that the time you need to access a system is when your away from a computer. Thanks to the SSH app on the iPhone and a number of other server administration apps I can do some basic diagnostic checks when away from a computer. Having passwords at my finger tips would give me that bit more flexability.
There are no instructions included in this blog post as because this is a graphical application that requires minimal customization to get it started most users will be able to pick it up right away. If however you have specific questions please leave a comment.
One final note for users of screen readers. An option is available in Keepass that makes the interface more accessible. Use the below instructions:
- When in KeePass navigate to the tools menu, arrow down to options then press enter.
- Press control and tab to move over to the advanced page.
- In the list view press the end key to jump down to the use accessible interface checkbox and press space to activate it.
- Press tab until you get to the OK button then press enter to save your changes.