The Password Puzzle

*This is part 1 of a three-part series on passwords

Imagine for a moment that you have two brothers, one sister, a mother, a father, and two grandparents. That makes seven different birthdays you need to remember or run the risk of a less than pleasant family reunion.

In today’s online world, the average web user has more than birthdays to remember. He or she must memorize 6.5 passwords or be restricted from accessing Facebook, bank accounts, or any other on-line convenience. (PC World) Young professionals, teenagers, and the elderly all struggle with the same dilemma; how to remember an ever-increasing number of passwords.

A popular solution is to create a complex combination of letters, numbers, and special keys, but it’s hard enough to remember grandma’s birthday let alone a password beginning with % and ending in @.  As a result, many people use the same combination for each website and in doing so, run the risk of a having multiple accounts violated.

Earlier this week, the popular professional social network Linkedin suffered a security breach in which user passwords were apparently stolen. Mr. Alex Stamos, Chief Technology Officer at Artemis Internet Inc. spoke about the breach.

“The biggest risk for users,” said Stamos, “is if they use these stolen LinkedIn passwords for other sites. If people have bad passwords, there’s nothing you can do.” (The Wall Street Journal Technology, June 10, 2012)

Researchers at Stanford University reasoned that “the brain’s ability to suppress irrelevant memories makes it easier for humans to remember what’s really important.”  (PC World) When they applied this logic to passwords, they argued that removing a password every six months would free up brain space to remember a new one.

Many organizations do just that by issuing employees new passwords on a regular basis. This unfortunately places the burden of security on an employee’s shoulders with the old key under the door mat scenario put into effect. Passwords are jotted down on post it notes and placed beside keyboards where a child has just as much chance to steal a password as an expert jewel thief.

Data security experts have been flirting with the idea of biometric authentication for many years. A joint study by Opus and ValidSoft concluded that due to the surge in mobile device banking, biometric authentication will soon become the security of choice. (Opus Research)

In Part 2 we will discuss biometrics in greater detail, specifically how it relates to the process of authentication.

…authenticate with your own voice


One thought on “The Password Puzzle

  1. Pingback: The Voice Biometric Solution |

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