Have you heard the latest tech buzz in the past few weeks? This one made me chortle with delight: Passwords might soon become passe!
Well, hallelujah and pass the biscuits! Or not.
I don’t think I am alone in my disdain for passwords. I believe the majority of us think they are a pain in the neck. A password can’t be too easy or someone else could guess it. It can’t be too hard, or we will never remember it. It’s a conundrum.
Weak passwords make us vulnerable, yet we all know people who continue to use their initials and “1234.” Back in the early days, someone I know used simply “1234” for all their accounts, apps, bills, bank access – everything. At least it was easy to remember.
But then apps and websites started asking for longer passwords, so we had to extend our “simple” string of numbers and letters. That’s where it started to get confusing.
I solved that problem by making up three distinctly different passwords, composed of letters (at least one capital), numerals, and a character – such as *, !, $ or @.
Then, I typed up a list of my various accounts and apps and alternated the passwords among them – recording them on a single document that I would keep on my computer desktop. Right there in the open. Brilliant, right?
Well, the 1234 individual mentioned above went the other direction and ended up with a password generator. The results looked like super spy codes.
Here’s how I think those services create them (it’s OK to try this at home): Sit at your computer keyboard with your fingers hovering over the keys. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. As you slowly exhale, make random keystrokes all over the keyboard. Don’t forget to hit the “shift” key and some number keys occasionally. When you’re out of breath, stop typing.
You’ll likely end up with something like 38c-1#fa-5@dt=p/d;ePKt. (This is now my new password, so please don’t use it to hack me!)
User 1234 tried to record their randomly generated PWs but kept getting flustered. I’m not sure they have been able to log into Spotify since then.
The two millennials in our family long ago started using an app called LastPass, a password management tool to store and manage one’s many passwords. It’s great, if you understand how it works. At least it requires only one password to access your personal vault.
The vault idea seems to be where we’re headed, one that’s resides on the elusive “cloud.”
Which brings me back to the recent big news: On May 5 (which was World Password Day, by the way), the three tech majors – Apple, Microsoft and Google – announced an agreement that they would eliminate passwords altogether, across all apps, devices, websites, and logins of all sorts.
They are all planning to use a technology standard created by an organization called the FIDO Alliance. (Who is that? I still don’t know.) They say we won’t need passwords anymore. We will be using other ways of authentication (that is, proving we are who we say we are) – involving biometrics, such as a scan of your thumbprint or face.
These practices have been in use for some time, but most of us common folk haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. The Big 3 hope this new push will kick start the effort.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this just yet. I’m comfortable with my list of passwords (that I’ve now hidden from view), and not sure I want my face to be my gateway to technology.
Considering that I have reached a certain age, I have to wonder: Will the face ID I set up today age along with me? Will my apps know it’s still me when I’m 85?