Passpack: Online Password Manager With Secure Sharing

passpack_logoPasspack, similar to many other password managers, offers a convenient and secure place to keep all of your passwords in one location, and can automatically log you into web sites, which can be very handy when you use lots of different apps and services. One thing that makes Passpack stand out from the crowd, though, is the new Secure Sharing facility.

Why is this useful? Well, for example, say you’re a web developer handing a project over to a client. You’re going to need to provide them with passwords to a whole range of things (databases, servers, app logins, etc.). By using Passpack’s Secure Sharing feature, you securely can send them the passwords in a neat and tidy list — no more insecure emailing of Excel or text files. It also could be very useful if you’re a sys admin for a company and need to hand out passwords to your co-workers in a secure way. If you need to update the passwords for whatever reason, they’re just kept in one place.

Sign-up is easy: Pick a username and password. If you’re concerned about privacy, you don’t even have to provide an email address if you don’t want to. You then need to pick a “Packing Key”: a long phrase which is used to encrypt your passwords. Passpack never sees this key, so you know that your passwords are safe. (Note: This also means that if you forget your Packing Key, you won’t be able to access your passwords. So make sure that you pick something memorable!)

Then, it’s simply a matter of entering your passwords into the system. Passpack makes it easy to organize your passwords, and even allows you to tag them and add notes for each account, which will make passwords for lesser-used services easier to find later. To make your passwords extra secure, Passpack can even suggest long random phrases for you that should be much harder to crack.passpack-enter

In order to share with someone else, you first need to connect with them (so Passpack can generate the encryption keys required) and then enable sharing. You can choose to let the person you’re sharing the password with view and modify the password, or just view it.

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As you would expect, Passpack takes security seriously. Like many online password managers, Passpack uses the Host-Proof Hosting Ajax pattern to ensure data privacy (so Passpack never see your passwords unencrypted), which normally makes sharing passwords in applications like this impossible. Passpack developed the pattern to maintain privacy but allow sharing. Another security measure that Passpack has in place is the ability to specify your own welcome message — a great idea as an anti-spoofing measure. If you don’t see the personal greeting you defined for yourself, you’ll know that the site you’ve visited is not the genuine Passpack site and won’t enter your precious Packing Key. Also, the process of connecting with someone else in order to share passwords is quite convoluted. In any other app, I would be quite critical of the hoops you need to jump through, but in the case of a password manager, you really don’t want to accidentally share passwords with someone you don’t intend to.

All in all, Passpack is a nicely designed, easy-to use, secure password manager. If you’d like to use a desktop app rather than the web interface, there is an optional free AIR (a adbe) client available (for Windows, Mac and Linux). The service is free for up to 100 passwords and one shared user on the account. Premium upgrades are available if you need more storage or to share your passwords with more people.

What do you use for password management?

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