Is the Age of the Password Over?

A recent article on Wired discusses at length about how the password just isn't cutting it anymore. This string of letters and numbers, and sometimes random characters if we're feeling extremely cautious (or if they're even allowed), keeps our personal and confidential information about as secure as a locked door on a convertible. Okay, maybe that's a stretch - but the point is clear that the passwords that we all feel protected by, are simply not enough in today's tech-savvy society.

The concept of the password is as old as time - a secret code to gain access, or a simple knock on the door.  The article gives a great example of the Peloponnesian war, where Athens plans an attack on Syracusae ( admittedly, we're also big fans of any Syracuse reference). While it should have been an easily won battle for the Athenians, they were defeated.

How? For all you non-history buffs, the Syracusans discovered a "secret" watchword that the Athenians had established to let each other know when they were among friendly soldiers. Using this code, the Syracusans were able to gain access to the enemy, ultimately creating a turning point in the war.

Sure, passwords may have worked just fine in the age of dial-up internet, when most of us were still getting kicked off our email when the telephone rang. We weren't as comfortable with the technology - and therefore, not as trusting. Now, we put everything online. From email to Facebook; online shopping sites to your bank account - and everything in between - all of your most private information is stored electronically. As the article mentions, many of us have all of our accounts linked or have the same usernames and passwords for each.

Passwords can be hacked a number of ways: simple guessing (it's really not that hard in the Google age), stolen through malware installed on your computer or accessed from a database breach. You don't have to be Donald Trump to be a target. In fact, hackers seem to target small businesses (less security) and everyday individuals.

You're probably thinking, "Okay, we get it, passwords just aren't cutting it anymore. What can we do differently to protect ourselves?"

While I can't answer that question for you, as IT professionals it is something we all need to be thinking about.

How can we keep our company's data as secure as possible?

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