Open Sesame: towards secure passwords

‘Password’ and ‘12345’ are not clever passwords and must be avoided.

- Advertisement -

In our modern digital world, usernames and passwords are entered during the log-in process for authentication when using digital devices. Computers, too, can be set up in such a way that a password must be entered before the device can be used. This is for security reasons and to protect the images and information on the system.

Email accounts such as Gmail and Yahoo, which are accessible from any computer or network, also require passwords, as do websites for which you register as a user, such as Amazon. In the case of the latter and similar websites, you may browse them without entering a password, but have to register on the site and set up a username and password if you want to use their services, such as buying a book from Amazon.

The first computer password was developed in 1961 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for use with the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), which gave rise to many of the basic computing functions we use today. CTSS was designed to accommodate multiple users simultaneously, with the same core processor powering separate consoles. Each researcher therefore needed a personal point-of-entry into the system.

- Advertisement -

Safe storage
It is very difficult even for moderate Internet users to remember all their passwords. Many people write down their usernames and passwords in a notebook. If you do this, keep it safe! The last thing you want is for the book to fall into the wrong hands.

As an added precaution, you could memorise each password and write down a clue in the book. If your password is ‘fido’ for website A, for example, write ‘dog’ in your notebook next to the website name, and so forth. Many users make the mistake of using the same password for all the websites they frequent. This is dangerous; if your password is found, all your work or information will be vulnerable.

The digital security provider Splashdata has a list of the worst passwords. According to their analysis, the most vulnerable are ‘password’ and ‘123456’. Avoid passwords like these at all costs!