Albert Einstein defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Isn’t that exactly where we are today with passwords? We keep using the same method for protecting ourselves online, but it’s not working. How many times this year have you had to change your password because of a breach?
Well let’s see… There was the heartbleed bug forcing users to change passwords on numerous sites… Michels… AutoNation… Spotify… and now eBay… All in the last 4-5 months.
This is a royal pain for anyone, but especially the uninformed user. Many use the same password across sites. When there’s a breach, they receive a notification to change their password. But it’s not only for that one site/service. It’s for all of the others where they used that same password. Now, this poor user needs to remember which sites had that same password. Then they need to go to that site, find where they change their password and enter a new one. It’s a lot of work. Oh, and “Who wants my account anyway?”… Let’s be honest, most people won’t go through the trouble…
The bottom line is that PASSWORDS SUCK! There’s just no other way to say it. They’ve sucked for years, but yet they’re still the major form for authenticating ourselves online. They’re cheap and easy for both the user and the service provider.
Yet time and time again, we see they’re not safe. Passwords alone don’t provide the level of protection needed on the world wild web.
There is hope! Many online sites are now providing multi-factor authentication. This allows users to easily secure their accounts using with the standby password (something you know) tied to a second factor: something you have (a physical token, chip, fob, or phone), something you are (your voice or fingerprint) or somewhere you are (your home location). Adding this second factor provides you with added security and will save you the hassle of having to change your password when the security is invariably breached on the site.
StopThinkConnect (http://stopthinkconnect.org/) has made it very easy for users to learn more. They’re new site (http://stopthinkconnect.org/campaigns/details/?id=460) and campaign “Two Steps Ahead: Protecting Your Digital Life” provides a single place to learn how to enable two-factor authentication. But Wait! There’s more!* This one site has links to many other popular sites (e.g., Google, Outlook, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc.) where you can easily setup two-factor authentication. It’s easy and convenient right from this one site.
UPDATE: There’s one other site you need to be aware of: http://twofactorauth.org/. It’s a crowdsourced site started by a researcher from Iowa State University. It’s a comprehensive list of what websites and services use 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) and which ones don’t.
Please, help stop the insanity. Take the time to set up two-factor authentication. Share this with others. Let’s move together to a more secure tomorrow.
*Sorry, if I sound like a infomercial. It really is a great site.