Are Passwords Becoming Extinct?

Apr 5, 2011

Passwords are certainly troublesome lately. Talk to any computer, programming or web design guru and they will certainly disagree:

“All you have to do is make a password that is not based on a word, has a few numbers and symbols.”

Oh sure, right. I’ll do that for the 50 different accounts that I am signed up for and have a password associated. Listen, I had trouble remembering all 50 states in elementary school, so I don’t think remembering 50 different complex passwords is in my repertoire.

Then they hit you over the head with something like this. Sure, I understand the point of the post is to show the average user just how quick a hacker can get your password the blunt force way, which is the most unlikely, slowest method for them to use. Well, this doesn’t help me or people like me at all. I still have a problem with remembering my complex password.

It seems the government is also filled with lots of people like me (us? Come on, you know you hate remembering those passwords!) and has decided to get behind a movement for creating a more universal method.  Here is a quick snippet that captures the idea, from ‘Say Goodbye to all those Passwords’, by James Sterngold:

“The U.S. Commerce Dept. is spearheading a new online security system that experts say will eliminate the password maze and perhaps boost e-commerce. The plan calls for a single sign-in each time a computer or phone is turned on, using a device such as a digital token, a smartcard, or a fingerprint reader. Once logged in, users would have access to any website that has signed up for the program.”

That sounds easier, but it also seems to be a door in which the government could slip some other tracking mechanisms in that the populace would be unaware? Perhaps that’s one step too far into the realm of ‘Too much conspiracy theory’?

On the other hand, a universal system, such as the one suggested, would allow for much more secure transactions through the Internet. People would be more trusting of sending and receiving information. That fact alone opens up a an entire new list of possibilities that have not been explored for one simple reason: security risks were too great.

So what’s better: The Stone Age method of making a complex password and remembering it, like we know we need to or the simplified system with a universal log-in for all your accounts that is monitored and powered by the government?

Either way, there is one glaring fact that must be stated: A complex password is perfectly viable for securing anyone’s account for any service or sign-up.

It is completely unnecessary to create an entire new system (that may or may not be government controlled) of log-in security just to counteract end-user laziness. Web designers and IT professionals around the world must be shaking their heads in grim disappointment for the many password warnings they have given, that clearly fell on deaf ears.

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