The day of the password is done
With so many Web sites demanding passwords, no one, but no one, can really be expected to remember all the ones they need
Computerworld - When the popular Web site Gawker was hacked into recently, more than a million user IDs and passwords were released. If you were one of the people compromised that's annoying -- very annoying. Not that it's a big deal that someone could log into a gossip site under your name. But many of those people used those same IDs and passwords on other sites that are a wee bit more important, such as LinkedIn. Now, that's a problem.
What should you do about it? Well, I could tell you that you need to use different passwords for different sites; that you need to pick passwords other than that all-time favorite, 123456; and that you should change your passwords every month for every site. I'm not going to, though. It's all good advice, mind you, but it's also all pretty darn useless.
People never have, and never will, use good security practices. After more than 30 years of working with networks and security, I'm ready to give up on trying to get the general public to do the right things to keep themselves safe. In a company, it's a different matter. It's a pain, but if you keep at it and enforce the rules, eventually you'll get most of the people to do the right things most of the time. But people at home? It's not going to happen.
Besides, there's another issue here. At work, people need to recall, at most, two or three IDs and passwords. If you do single sign-on right, all they'll need is one. On the public Internet, though, people have to remember their IDs and passwords for their bank, Facebook, Twitter, school, Gmail, phone, electric, 401(k), LinkedIn, Computerworld and countless other accounts.
Who can manage to remember dozens of IDs and passwords for dozens of sites? I'll tell you who: no one.
I can't do it, and I'm blessed with a good memory for random alphanumeric strings -- you really don't want me to get a good look at your credit card number. If I can't do it, no one who isn't blessed with a photographic memory can do it.
What I do is keep a long list of user IDs and passwords in my head. Some of them I use only on trivial sites such as Gawker (though I don't have an account there). Others, I keep only for important sites, such as LinkedIn. And a few I save only for vital sites like my bank. Those last are tied in my memory with a specific site. So, for example, I have one ID and password for my health insurance site that I don't use for any other sites.
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