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Passwords: A Fickle Yet Necessary Means to Security

Passwords. You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. The advent of the web has created a veritable spider web for every individual. What was often a matter of remembering one or two passwords for your computer and your email account has now mushroomed to having to remember dozens of passwords, one for every account that you are signed up for. Also, the complexity of the passwords has increased exponentially, and rightfully so.

Technology and the availability of stolen personal information has increased the odds of the wrong people being able to guess a password. The loss of a single password can have disastrous consequences, including the loss of one’s life savings or cause immeasurable damage to privacy. There have been countless articles written about the need to have a strong password and the need to avoid using attributes that are easily guessed. Two-factor authentication has become ubiquitous. However, the criminals have kept us on our toes, SIM spoofing is a genuine threat to two-factor authentication.

Biometric identification is experiencing a big boom. The use of an individual’s biometric features for authentication has already been incorporated into our daily lives via iPhone security mechanisms, etc. The proliferation of smart devices has been both a boon and curse. Many consumers tend to use their smart device as the platform for their applications resulting in the storage of their credentials on their handsets. What protects their handsets? A password or passcode. Many companies are offering passwordless solutions. These usually rely on a device identifier that is controlled by biometric features. But almost all solutions are underpinned by a password. They make it easier but are not really eliminating the password.

Another thing to keep in mind is the demographic. Each generation of users has developed practices that are hard to get over. The younger tech savvy generation can easily adapt to newer technologies. The older generation that has not had as much exposure to technology has a harder time with new technology. Biometric solutions are not infallible. They are usually stored as data points. This results in more data that can potentially be stolen in hacks.

At the end of the day, passwords are not disappearing any time soon nor is there a really easy answer. Until we reach the point where technology provides an infallible solution, it is best to remember the basics, such as creating a unique password for each application, don’t share your passwords, create complex passwords, and most importantly, monitor account activity periodically!

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