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Safer Way to Write Down Passwords
By AJ Allen
I know, I know, you all have bazillion passwords and they all have to be different depending on the website or account password requirements. It still pains me when I walk in a classroom and see a teacher or administrator having a piece of paper or a sticky note with their log in credentials to all the websites they use on a regular basis. While it does bother me that people have to resort to this, I understand why this has to be done. Luckily, there are options out there for those that want to securely store their passwords in one easy-to-use file.
Believe it or not, a program we all use daily has a feature built in to secure documents. Microsoft Word has a document-protection feature to encrypt your password file. While this sounds great, there is an important drawback to this. I’m sure most of you have heard of a Trojan or spyware referred to as “key loggers”. A keystroke logger is a program that you may inadvertently download that monitors every keystroke you make. It is important that as you make your password file, you add extra characters to the end of your username/password field and then delete them after you type them. This will throw off any key logging program so a hacker does not get your credentials. Now, after you type all your websites, usernames and passwords into a file, we will need to add
1. Click on File > Info > Protect Document button > Encrypt with Password.
2. Type in a password and press ‘Enter’ on your keyboard.
3. Confirm the password and press ‘Enter’ on your keyboard again.
I know what you’re thinking – “So what about our Mac users AJ?”. Well I’m glad you asked. Mac 2011 is laid out a little bit differently.
1. Open/Create the document as you normally would.
2. Click Word > Preferences > Security.
3. Enter a password in the “Password to open” box.
4. You can adjust the “Privacy Options” as you see fit.
5. Click “OK” in the bottom right of this window.
Now the best way to go about entering your passwords into login sites would be to copy and paste
from your Word document that you just created. This will prevent key loggers from obtaining your
password because you are copying and pasting it. Some sites won’t let you paste into a password
field so you have to type it. Obviously, the best choice is to not document passwords on paper or
electronically but I hope this article will at least make you think about securing your passwords in the