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Alternatives to passwords: Replacing the ubiquitous authenticator
This article is part of the December 2011 issue of Information Security magazine
The joke voted the funniest at the Edinburgh Fringe this year was about an unlikely subject: “I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” Funny or not, the fact that it made so many people laugh just shows how much passwords -- and the challenges they pose -- have become part of our mainstream 21st century existence. Passwords have been a problem since the dawn of computing. They tend to be either so complex that no one can remember them, or so obvious that anyone could guess them. And the problem is getting even tougher. Anyone who has an encrypted laptop, conducts online banking or online shopping, and uses social networking sites is likely to have dozens of passwords to remember: far too many for one human mind to retain. Some users choose to write their passwords down on paper and keep them in their desk drawers or (even worse) stick the paper to their computer screens. Others take the line of least resistance and use the same password for multiple accounts. Either route is risky....
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Features in this issue
Companies need to factor security risks and incidents in their financial disclosures, agency says.
As the relative security of passwords falters, are they destined for obscurity?
EDRM brings users into security more than any other tool. Are you ready?
Researcher tells a firsthand account of her experience as a member of the final security review team for Windows Vista.
Columns in this issue
Lawmakers continue to wrangle over creation of a national data breach notification standard.
If you’re going to lure topnotch talent, refine your skills.
Cloud computing needs security standards and widely adopted security practices in order to become a viable choice for the enterprise.