How many times per week — or per day — are you prompted to provide this information? With every account you open or every site for which you create a profile, you are asked to create a password. Many sites will coach you on the relative strength or weakness of your password and its vulnerability to hackers. For instance, the random series “FZ58HK7” is more secure than the remedial “james85” (Translation: “My name is James and I was born in 1985”). In the name of simplicity, I have conditioned myself to use a similarly unimaginative, highly unencrypted arrangement of characters each time I open a new account for whatever service, product, or site I’m visiting.
Many systems, such as those of cellular phone companies, will provide a default password (such as “1111”), for checking messages, which the user can then personalize. Problem is, many people just don’t take the time to do this. The emphasis falls on having a code that is easily remembered rather than an obscure — and therefore more secure — string, because most of us just want to believe our lives are more organized (and anonymous) than they really are.
It doesn’t take a criminal of Mensa status to plug in a series of “dummy code” guesses based on a person’s phone digits, street address, or birthdate to hit the jackpot once in a while. The option of linking your Facebook, Twitter, and all Google identities (Gmail, Google Docs, You Tube, etc.) through the same password furthers the potential liability by encouraging convenience over obfuscation. For some unscrupulous souls, cracking the passcode for one site can be the fateful domino that undoes your entire online personal security matrix.
For these reasons, an online service to organize and securely store username and password information for all the sites you frequent seems like a good idea. That way, you can be more creative and random in choosing your handles without worrying about forgetting them, therefore making you less vulnerable to hacking, identity theft, and the ever-expanding varieties of virtual thievery.
Just as I was lamenting the obvious chinks in the armor of my vulnerable online persona, a colleague in the bustling BTS office directed me to 1password.com, a service that allows you to create “strong, unique passwords” that link directly in your web browser. For a fee, single users, families, and companies can have “all confidential information, including passwords, identities, and credit cards, kept in one secure place, protected by the only password you will need to remember,” according to the website.
Which brings me back to my original dilemma: With all my passwords, however obscure, housed in the same place, what genius master password can I create that is easy enough to remember and intricate enough to keep my “safe” from being cracked? And what about the blog I posted a while back that reveals the name of my first pet, the street I grew up on, my mother’s maiden name, and my favorite actor? How was I to know those would be the same security questions I would be answering to protect the intimate details of my life and my financial well being? Such is the paradox we face when we live in a world that encourages us to share intimately, yet keep our personal identities protected.
- Check your password – is it strong? (kozar.wordpress.com)
- Password management with firefox (lpicquet.wordpress.com)
- >Trick to Decrypt Passwords Stored in Firefox With FirePasswordViewer (pctricksnhacks.wordpress.com)