Analyze, clean and generate strong passw ...

Analyze, clean and generate strong passwords in MS Excel with pwdFarm 2020

Apr 17, 2020

Taking advantage of the "social quarantine", a few days ago I made available to the public (and totally free for a limited time) a complete workbook designed for Microsoft Excel 2019 in which you can analyze, clean and generate strong passwords, establishing a series of customizable parameters, as a kind of "patterns".

Before proceeding with this post (just because, and because it is necessary), the "security experts" DO NOT recommend the use of spreadsheets (no matter how encrypted they may be) to store sensitive data (passwords, for example), getting bottled up in the case of Microsoft Office (ignoring the rest of similar programs). Although it remained an "urban legend", the problematic versions in this regard are Office 2007 (and below). Also, by keeping our Office suite updated, the risk is less. In fact, pwdFarm is compatible only with Microsoft Excel 2019, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Excel for Android, Microsoft Excel for iOS and Microsoft Excel for Web, since the latest formulas available for Microsoft Excel are used. And if we add to this that we should not upload this book to the cloud, a plus. In short, it is the criteria of each one, a little "non-common" sense and to be cautious at all times.

pwdFarm (that's what I called this book, "password farm", pun intended to make it look nice), is as simple as it is complex. Simple, because everything is based on Excel formulas, zero programming in VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), zero macros. And complex, because there are many formulas and many conditions, quite detailed, to analyze the current and generated passwords, and while analyzing them, it shows us the colors of the passwords through colors, and if it does not meet the minimum or recommended requirements, it indicates that we should generate a new password.

And you don't just live on passwords, because pwdFarm also includes PIN (numeric) code generators for various occasions, WPA and WEP keys generators for routers, GUID keys (Globally Unique Identifier) and the most recent ULID (Universally Unique Lexicographically Sortable Identifier), Media Access Control (MAC) addresses, and new for the 2020 version, a random response generator, based on real answers for the security questions that some websites and services require (it cannot be so obvious to answer faithfully when there are dictionaries of possible common words).

The password patterns, that is, the sheet in which we establish how the passwords are composed and with how many or which characters, by categories, received a small modification with respect to previous versions, up to 256 random characters for each type of character chosen at automatically. Patterns were also relocated so that more categories can be added as needed by the user.

Why is there so much emphasis on the "type" and "shape" of passwords? Because we are clear that not all of us give the same relevance to all passwords or why we need to generate a password. In addition, there are also cases (so daily) in which not all websites or all services (especially banks, very bad that) give us "freedom" to create passwords (appropriate to our liking). Many of these websites or services limit the size of the passwords (not so long) or the characters to use (nothing special or not capitals, or that the password always starts with a lowercase letter, such a cybersecurity policy. .. ridiculous?).

The Statistics sheet also received a small aesthetic and functional renovation, with an overall quality indicator for each condition, both visual (use of colors depending on the result) and briefly descriptive.

Since pwdFarm is not intended to replace or replace traditional password managers (always remember to delete sensitive data and password-protect the workbook), a number of additional sheets are available to export updated passwords to the most popular password managers (and recommended) currently: 1Password, Bitwarden, Chrome / Firefox (not recommended, but a sheet is included if you want and if you need to import passwords from those browsers or similar), Dashlane, Buttercup, Enpass, Keeper, KeePass2 (because it is more complete and flexible when working with CSV files, but it can still be used with other forks), LastPass, PasswordSafe, Safe-In-Cloud, and even printed paper.

Check the new pwdFarm 2021 versions here!

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