Security

Keep track of passwords using Key Folder

Passwords are supposed to keep programs secure. Remembering those passwords is something users aren't always good at. Rather than jotting down passwords on sticky notes and posting them on monitors, they can use Key Folder.


"Now which password did I use on this account?" How many times have you asked yourself that or had users reset a password on an account because they couldn't remember it? Worse yet, how many times have you walked around the office and noticed little sticky notes attached to monitors or keyboards with passwords written down on them? That's where Key Folder comes in.

What's Key Folder?
Key Folder is a program by Mag2 Software that allows you to store any program's user and password information in one central location. You can even use it to store PIN numbers and credit card numbers for online transactions. A feature that I find most interesting is that Key Folder lets you associate multiple URLs or e-mail links with an entry, enabling easy access to jump to specific pages. Other features of Key Folder include:
  • Password generator for creating random passwords
  • Password expiration tracker
  • Drag-and-drop support
  • Multiple users per machine
  • Search tool for specific entries

You might be concerned that storing passwords on a machine isn't much more secure than putting a sticky note on your monitor, but you needn't worry. Key Folder protects user IDs and password information with 128-bit encryption. Therefore, it's almost impossible for someone to crack the Key Folder database and discover your recorded IDs and passwords.

Key Folder is a shareware program, although it's licensed to be free for personal use. Businesses must purchase a separate license, and the cost varies depending on the number of users. Current business licenses are:
  • 1 user—$15
  • 5 users—$65
  • 10 users—$100
  • 20 users—$160
  • 50 users—$350
  • 100 users—$600

To inquire about additional licenses, you can e-mail Mag2 Software.

Obtaining and installing Key Folder
You can obtain Key Folder directly from Mag2 Software's Web site. The program you'll download, Keyfolder11.exe, is small (only 315 KB), so it will download quickly. Save it to a temporary location on your workstation, and you're ready to go.

To install Key Folder, simply execute the Keyfolder11.exe file. The program installs using a typical Setup Wizard. Just click Next as you work through the wizard, paying attention to the on-screen instructions. The only place you really have to make any serious decisions is on the Choose Components screen. There, you'll have to decide whether you want to display startup icons in the Start menu and on the desktop.

You don't need to restart your workstation after installing Key Folder. You can just get down to business and start using it.

Using Key Folder
To start Key Folder, either double-click the Key Folder icon on the desktop or click Start | Programs | Key Folder | Key Folder. You'll then see the Key Folder window appear with No User in the middle pane and Logged Off at the bottom of the screen.

Before you can begin storing information, you must create a Key Folder user. Click File | New | User to open the New User window. Enter a user ID and password in the appropriate fields. The user ID and password don't have to relate to any user information that you want to store, but you should make them easy to remember. If you forget your Key Folder password, you won't be able to access any information stored in Key Folder.

After you create a user, you can begin adding the information you want to remember. Key Folder stores information in objects called items. To organize items, you can create folders, which can also contain additional folders.

To create a new item, click File | New | Item or press [Insert] on your keyboard. A key icon will appear under your user name, along with a field where you can enter the name of the item you want to remember. Once you enter the name, double-click it to launch the Edit Item screen shown in Figure A. Here, you'll enter all of the appropriate information for the item.

Figure A
After you create an item, you must enter information for it.


Most of the fields are self-explanatory. Next to the Password field, you'll notice a button with a magic wand over a key. If you click this button, Key Folder will randomly generate a password for you. Next to the Links box, you'll notice a Links button. Clicking it opens the Manage Links window, where you can enter information about Web sites or e-mail accounts that may be associated with the item.

After you've entered all the passwords you want Key Folder to remember, you're all set. When you go to a Web site or start a program that requires a user ID and password, all you have to do is open the related item in Key Folder. You can click the Copy button next to the User and Password fields to copy the information to the clipboard. Then, when you switch back to the requesting program, you can paste in the information.

Customizing Key Folder
You can customize the way Key Folder works by clicking View | Options. The first thing you'll see is the General tab, shown in Figure B. On this tab, you can control what information Key Folder displays.

Figure B
You can control what appears in Key Folder.


The Startup tab, shown in Figure C, lets you specify what Key Folder should do when you start it. Rather than having to log on every time you start Key Folder, you can make it log on automatically and with a specified user. Although this may save time, note that this weakens Key Folder's security.

Figure C
The Startup tab lets you specify startup options.


The Actions tab, shown in Figure D, changes the way Key Folder behaves when it's running. You can make sure it stays on top of other windows, minimizes to the system tray, and clears the clipboard when you quit. You can also change how it displays Update dates.

Figure D
You can control Key Folder's behavior.


The final tab, Password Generator (Figure E), controls how Key Folder's built-in password generator works. If your network uses strong passwords, you can specify the password length and any special characters required.

Figure E
You can change how the password generator makes passwords.


Keys to success
Key Folder is a convenient utility to have on hand. It's easy to use and, when it comes to things such as passwords, it's secure. There's a lot more to Key Folder than what I've covered here. Download it and give it a try.

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