identity chaos (password chaos)

Identity chaos (sometimes called password chaos) is a situation in which users have multiple identities and passwords across a variety of networks, applications, computers and/or computing devices. To further complicate matters, each of the user's passwords may be subject to different rules, allow access at different security levels, and expire on different dates. Such a situation can lead to security risks. Because people have to remember so many different passwords, they may choose very simple ones and change them infrequently. A frequent tactic for remembering passwords -- affixing them to your computer on a sticky note -- is even worse. Security experts suggest that a password should be an unpredictable and reasonably long string of mixed numbers and letters, which makes it harder to crack. Unfortunately, such a password is also harder for the user to remember, especially if it is one of many. According to some reports, calls to resolve password issues often overburden help desk resources.

Identity management methods and software are being developed to automate and simplify password and identity-related administrative tasks. Self-service password reset products allow users to resolve password issues without calling a help desk. Password synchronization allows users to access resources across networked computers and computing devices with a single password. A variation called single signon also enables synchronization across applications.

This was last updated in June 2007

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