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Sometimes, it seems like it can be a Herculean task just to come up with a unique password, never mind having to remember it — and all of the other passwords you are asked to use to protect not only your devices but also all of the websites and online services you may use that require inputting sensitive personal information. But with the way technology is progressing, may experts are starting to question whether passwords may becoming obsolete, and if still need them at all.
Marc Saltzman said that without question, it can be a nuisance to remember multiple passwords, but the consequences of a weak password can be dire. Every time you sign up for a new platform or service, you are being asked to develop a password. If you take the easy way out, you are vulnerable to data breaches and theft of your personal information. But we are starting to look at ways to protect ourselves that don’t require a special code that can be hacked.
Online vulnerabilities have amplified during the current COVID-19 pandemic. More of our business is being done online and much of interaction with others is happening on a digital pathway. In early April, the popular conferencing platform Zoom revealed that half a million stolen passwords were up for sale on the dark web, and phishing scams have increased exponentially.
Passwords are the key to keeping digital lives secure, and yet they’re not very secure by themselves. Without a password manager or two-factor authentication, it is relatively easy for hackers to crack people’s passwords, not least because “123456,” “qwerty” and “password” are still some of the most commonly used passwords across the globe.
It is now pretty commonplace to open your phone with your fingerprint or your face, and soon, biometric identification might be the norm for accessing all kinds of personal data. Since 2015, Google has worked to limit both the use of and the need for passwords in Android phones. Microsoft, too, launched its own alternatives, introducing a biometric login system in order to avoid the need for conventional passwords. The fight against our overreliance on passwords even has an open industry body backing the cause – The FIDO Alliance, which includes member companies such as Google, Facebook, PayPal, Visa and Amazon.
The technology to replace passwords exists, yet adoption has been slow. Despite some companies like Dropbox adopting this form of user identification, it has been used as a second layer of security for passwords, when it was really intended to be the first line of defense.
While it is unlikely that we’ll see passwords completely disappear anytime soon, they may begin to take a backseat to more secure forms of identification, just as you can still use your PIN to open your phone if your fingerprint or face doesn’t register. In the meantime, there is no excuse to slack off on password safety!
Ensure you’re using strong passwords and invest in a password manager for both yourself and your business, such as ESET Password Manager. While recovering a personal password might not be too difficult, accidentally compromising business data can be much trickier to recover from. This World Password Day, take a moment to review your own password protections – it just might save you a lot of hassle down the track!