Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Guide to KeePass

KeePass: What is it and why should I use it?

KeePass is a password management software that allows you to store usernames and passwords in one location on your computer, all protected by one master password.  The information is stored locally and never on a "cloud" so it is impossible to access the information from another computer.  If KeePass is open and running on your computer (you must sign in using your master password), you can program it to autofill any username/password information when you encounter a login.

Using KeePass on Mac or PC

WARNING! The Master password is not saved anywhere, so if you forget it, all your passwords are lost and you cannot get to any password-protected files or websites. Be sure to write it down and keep it safe.

Installing KeePass
For Microsoft Windows users, go to http://keepass.info/download.html and click on the link “KeePass 1.25 (Installer EXE for Windows)”. Note that a newer version might be available for download, so choose whichever you want to work with.

When your download is done, run the setup file and click on all options in the affirmative (i.e. “run”, “yes”, “continue”, “finish”). Now run KeePass, and this screen should pop up

The general setup is the same across Mac and Windows platforms, so for simplicity we’ll continue with the Mac platform.

Mac users go to http://www.keepassx.org/downloads and click on “Binary package (PowerPC and Intel) v0.4.3” This will save the dmg file onto your computer. Double click on it and follow the instructions. You should see the following

You Might also see this screen

if so, select open.

Creating a Database
This will be the same for both Mac and PC users.
Once installed, run KeePass and from the File menu, select New Database. This operation can also be accessed by clicking on the New Database button on the upper left corner of the KeePass window.

Here you will set your Master Key. Remember to write it down and keep it safely. If you lose it, you will not have access to ANY of your saved passwords. You will be prompted to enter it twice. Enter the password and click on okay, don’t worry about Generating a Key File at this point.  To add a new entry, click on the gold key with a green arrow on it. For each entry, you will have to provide the following information

●      Group: Select the group in which you want to store the entry.
●      Title: This is a descriptive name for the entry.
●      Username
●      URL: This is the location of the password- or passphrase-protected site. (optional)
●      Password: This is the password or passphrase to be stored.
●      Comment (optional)

The "Quality:" field depicts the strength of your chosen passphrase. When you have finished the entry, click OK.

Note: You can have KeePass generate a random password for you for better security.

In the same way you added a new entry, you can add a new group or subgroup.

If you want to use the KeePass Auto-Type feature which will automatically log you in to accounts:
  • Open the web site or service you need to log into.
  • Place the cursor in the "Username:" field.
  • Open KeePass, and then select a passphrase entry (single-click to highlight).
  • To enter the username and passphrase, press “Ctrl-v” or right-click the selected entry and then choose Perform Auto-Type.

NOTE: Mac users, you must do a traditional copy and paste for both the username and password.

For more detailed information about using KeePass, see the help documentation within the program or visit the KeePass Help Center.

Using KeePass on a Mobile Device

Sometimes it’s convenient to visit websites on mobile devices, but does this mean you have to look up those passwords all over again? Of course not! KeePass has a mobile app that comes in two flavors; MiniKeePass (for iPhone/iPad) and KeePassDroid (for Android devices). Coupled with Dropbox, you can sync your passwords to your mobile devices.

You can use either iTunes, Email or a Key File (if you generated one) to sync your passwords, and in this guide we chose to use Dropbox.

Download MiniKeePass and Dropbox (both are freeware) from the App Store. If you don’t already have a dropbox account, you can signup for a free one at www.dropbox.com On your desktop, save your Database file to a dropbox folder so you can get it from there using MiniKeePass. Now open Dropbox on your mobile device and navigate to your saved database. Upon selecting your file, you should see this screen:

Don’t worry about the message “unable to view file”. Tap on the download arrow, and this next screen will pop up:

The next few steps are easy. Open the database in MiniKeePass and you should come across this with whatever you named your database.
Tapping on the database will prompt you to enter your password. This is the Master Password

From here on you can copy the password you need and use it for login.

NB: If you update one of your databases, it does not automatically sync with dropbox, so you will have to reupload it to Dropbox and open it again in MiniKeePass.