Let’s say I am storing my keepassxc master password somewhere let’s say paper. Why should I not write it down directly, as for me I have a hard time decrypting passwords and don’t necessarily trust myself to remember the password enough to decrypt the “code”. How exactly should you write passwords down on paper?
I would suggest that for example if you have the word
flower in your password that you don’t write flower on the paper but draw .
Or maybe if you have a part of song lyrics as password you should only write the title of the song on the paper.
But generally it is way better to just keep your master-password in your mind and don’t write in down anywhere (not even physical on paper).
I think you have to weight the risk in your own situation, but I would bet that if you don’t think a break-in is likely that you are fine to have the password written down. Maybe have just the password without any other information to indicate what it’s a password for. Hide in a weird place. Then destroy the paper once you feel like you memorized it? You can work it in different ways.
@Bullpen5875’s suggestion is also great!
You can make your own encryption!
Mathematician Pierre de Fermat once posed an interesting puzzle, asking the order of numbers. Here’s an example:
8 5 4 9 1 7 6 3 2
The order of those numbers is alphabetical, meaning the first letter (or two) of each number corresponds to its place in the string above. 8 is “E”, 5 is “F”, 4 is also “F”, 9 is “N”, and so on. It all comes out to:
E Fi Fo N O Se Si Th Tw
This points to a pretty decent encryption scheme. If you wrote out an account number as EFiFoNOSeSiThTw and someone were to see it, chances are they’d have no idea what it meant. On the other hand, you’d be able to decode the message in a few seconds for any time you needed that account number.
The same kind of scheme works well for alphanumeric encryption. If the information you want to protect was HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY, you could simply switch the letters for numbers and the numbers for letters like this:
81161625 ThZ208 29182084125
Like with the previous example, numbers were replaced with the first letter they’re spelled with (or two if necessary). Letters were replaced with the numeric order in the alphabet (H=8, A=1, P=16, P=16, Y=25, etc.).
These are both very simple encryption schemes that pretty much everyone would see as gibberish but you’d be able to decode fairly quickly when needed. You could even use a scheme like this to create secure passwords.
Memorize or write that down on another piece of paper and/or somewhere you trust but try to keep the 2 pieces separated from each other.
How to create your own encryption
It’s more secure if you come up with your own idea and keep it secret. When you do, make sure you do the following things:
Make your encryption scheme something you can easily remember whenever you look at the encoded information. One or two rules/steps should be enough. If you make too many rules/steps when creating the scheme it will be much harder to recall when you need to use it to decode your information.
Show a few samples of encoded information to your smartest friends and see if they’re able to decode it within a few minutes.
Test out your encryption scheme on unimportant information for a few weeks to make sure you remember it after some time has passed. If you don’t, you’ll need to come up with a more simple scheme that you won’t forget.
Once you’ve got your simple encryption scheme put together you can even start writing your codes in publicly-visible places without the need to worry about thieves or privacy concerns (but don’t)
Here’s some tips:
- Don’t keep the piece of paper on your desk, or anywhere near the computer.
- Use some kind of cypher. Such as A=B, B=C, and so on.
- Don’t write it on a piece of paper. People look for pads/paper.
- Avoid consecutive numbers.
- Think of a good place to store it. A safe is a good option, but that’s not feasible for everyone.
- Use one of those pens with ink that can only be read, in certain light (eg: UV).
I would recommend storing it a metal plate, like they do for crypto wallets. If your house burns down you wouldn’t lose it and it’s less likely someone gone trowaway a metal plate
@alexxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx has a pretty good point. I’d like to add that some people etch letters and numbers onto the surface of a series of washers. Each washer contains some kind of information you can read and later use for deciphering purposes. Find a long metal bolt then slide on the washers. Fasten a nut to the bolt to prevent the washers from sliding off.
I think every person will probably have an interesting solution to this. (as I see above)
I’ve found the following to be simple and useful:
-Have a short PIN phrase. eg. “frog vomit” that you add to every unique password.(hint—memory experts say that funny, disgusting, or sexual things will almost always be remembered easily) (where you add it is up to you–prefix, suffix, in the middle, etc)
-Write your master password directly onto a grocery list and hang it right on your fridge.