A Look Into Open Source Password Managers

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably know these three things already: online security is imperative, you must have strong unique passwords for each of your accounts, and that you have to frequently alter those regularly for security reasons. However, this knowledge doesn’t make it easier to keep track of all the passwords you use on all your accounts.

Are you one of those who rely solely on memory to store passwords? Or one of those who keep passwords in an unsecured file to copy paste when needed? Have you ever thought of an alternative? If yes, then you definitely need password managers.

What is a password manager?

A password manager is software that helps a user to manage login credentials such as usernames and passwords, and other vital information used to access an online account. A good password manager helps to store info securely while not compromising safety.

What are main reasons for using a password manager?

Let’s face it unless one has some sort of system that helps to remember things, our memories aren’t that reliable. To me, there are 3 main reasons for using a password manager.

  1. With password managers, you have the freedom from having to remember your login credentials.
  2. Strong passwords have a minimum of 8 characters and should have numbers, lower and uppercase letters, and special characters. I even have a hard time remembering my cell phone number what more a strong password. A good password manager will generate strong unique passwords for you with those criteria.
  3. Once you’ve saved the login credentials, password managers fill and even log you on the moment you come back to the website where you have an account. This means less time wasted remembering then typing them in especially if your work involves having to login into various online accounts.

Now it’s time to give some recommendations. Here are two examples of password managers from the open source world.

KeePassX

This is one of the oldest but still gold tools still in use. Aside from being open source it is a cross-platform and lightweight password management application that stores your usernames, passwords and different login info in a very secure way.

Some features are:

Auto fill: You don’t have to search for a certain login credential as the application auto fills the login form for you. This keeps it secure from key loggers.

Password generator: creating strong passwords on the fly is easier.

Portable media access: Runs on any platform and there’s no need to install it to be able to use it.

Two-factor authentication: Allows the user to either unlock the password database using a master password or by a key from a portable drive.

Clipperz

Clipperz has a unique approach to password management, which they call a “zero knowledge” net application.

Great features are:

Direct login: Automatically logs into any website you’ve saved in the database, with only 1 click.

No installation: Being a Web-based application, no installation is needed just a compatible browser.

Data import: You can import login data from any password management software it supports.

Why Open Source Is Good for Business

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Many businesses and government organizations started to use open source software at a time when the people running those entities became increasingly aware that the price, is not the only advantage such software holds.  Open source software holds numerous advantages for businesses that compel organizations and institutions to use those. Some of those advantages are even more valuable than the software’s low price.

1. Security

Many organizations continuously face threats from to their systems via their website, network, and/or servers. With the realization that no system can be 100% secure, some of these organizations do hire ethical hackers to do penetration testing on their systems in the interest of knowing the kinds of security issues they are dealing with.

Application security testing requires the right tools to be effective. There are thousands of open source security tools that have been given good rating due to their effectiveness.

An example of a penetration-testing tool is Wireshark, a network protocol analyser that works on Windows, Linus, OS X and a whole lot more platforms. Another is Metasploit, which is the most popular, and most advanced tool used by pen-testers.

2. Quality

Generally, open source software gets closest to the user needs precisely because the community of users/developers themselves can have a hand in making it so. This type of software is likely to be better as thousands of users and developers give their ideas and inputs on how to improve the software. Take, for example, the case of Linux and the various distros it has.

3. Freedom

Using open source on your business frees you from the lock-in that propriety software has. For instance software vendors decide which products they cease to develop. Sure you can use another product but what if the vendor go bust or get bought out? Do you have a disaster recovery plan such as those that Prosyn offers?

On the other hand, with open source you have the right to use the software you already have or modify it for your company’s needs.

4. Customizability

Businesses can implement open source software and tweak it to suit their needs as soon as they realize some features are missing. With proprietary systems, the code is open only to a handful of developers within vendor’s boundaries. With open source, the code is free for anyone who has the skills to add the functionality you want.

5. Flexibility

Software flexibility is being able to choose solutions that suit your business needs. Though many commercial software products claim flexibility as a built-in feature and some does have it. When you’re using proprietary software products such as Microsoft Office, you’re required to keep upgrading both software and hardware. With open source, you don’t upgrade hardware as much because they run on older hardware. Besides, the decision to upgrade should be up to the user, not the vendor.

The list goes on and if you’re really interested to find out more about the open source software movement, it’s history and licensing and other things, this article might be of great help.