How To Securely Store Passwords and Sensitive Data

As our tech oriented lives become more complex, we have to keep track of a myriad of passwords, license keys, and other miscellaneous sensitive data. Perhaps you’ve been keeping a Microsoft Excel file containing all that sensitive data, or maybe a text file tucked away.

The problem is, what happens if your computer is compromised or stolen? All that important information is at someone else’s disposal. So how do you keep your sensitive data safe?

Password Management Application

Here are some free and paid applications that you can use to keep your sensitive data safe.

Free:

LastPass https://lastpass.com/: This is my personal favorite cross-platform, cross-browser password management tool. Basically, you sign up for a free account, which allows you to store all your passwords and sensitive data in your personal “vault.” The “vault” is stored in encrypted form on LastPass’ servers. If you install a browser extension, LastPass can autofill your login forms and even save credit cards, shipping, and billing addresses. You can also use the LastPass Pocket App to store your data securely in local storage.
KeePass http://keepass.info/: If you’re looking to keep your passwords in local storage only using an open source, try KeePass. While it is built for Windows, there are Mac and Linux ports available. KeePass isn’t as seamless as LastPass, but there is a way to sync passwords between computers and integrate with your browser. Check out this article.

Paid:

1Password https://agilebits.com/onepassword: This is one of the most feature rich applications available on Mac and Windows (no Linux). It is a desktop application with multiple syncing capabilities, browser support, sharing options, and many options for organizing types and categories of sensitive data.
RoboForm http://www.roboform.com/: Another paid solution with a similar to 1Password. Worth checking out.

Other Options

While it’s possible to password protect an excel or word file, this isn’t the safest option. These types of protection can be compromised easily. Instead consider encrypting your files and storage volumes using a dedicated encryption tool. Check out five popular encryption programs featured on Lifehacker.