In the course of doing business, we seem to end up with a lot of passwords. There are passwords for various web accounts, passwords for software programs (QuickBooks for example requires a password), email and document passwords. How do you remember all those passwords? Well most people don’t and end up writing them down.
Since you have to write them down, how do you keep those safe? One way to protect written passwords is to keep in them all in one encrypted, passworded file. That way you only have to remember one password (the password used to open the encrypted file). You can accomplish this with a software product like Password Safe or if you have Microsoft Office, you can use Microsoft Excel to accomplish this. To activate file encryption in Excel (Version 2007 and later) follow these steps:
With the Excel document open, click the Office Button in the upper left corner.
Select Prepare, then Encrypt Document.
Excel will prompt you for a password that will be used to open the file. Make sure the password you put in is a good one and not some lame one (like your pet’s name). An example of a good password is “R6&4FcsrpXtsb#459Xs”. It’s a mixture of upper and lower case letters along with special characters thrown in. Gibberish! And it will be difficult for anyone to guess it, much less crack it.
After you have typed a password (and retyped it for confirmation), save the file. Don’t name it something obvious like “my passwords”. Instead pick a name that has nothing to do with passwords or security.
That’s it! Now you have a safe place to store your passwords. One problem remaining is how to remember the password you set to open the file. If you selected a gibberish password like that example above, you’ll never remember it. So you will have to write it down somewhere. Make sure that you don’t reference the password file in the place where your write that password down.
You are much better off with file encryption to protect your passwords. If you use Excel, you will get 128 bit encryption which is one of the best. So no more writing passwords on sticky notes! Protect those passwords with file encryption.