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October 2007

Learn to balancing security and usability

I just received notice that my Windows password will expire soon. Once again, I'm confronted with the task of memorizing a random eight- to 10-character alphanumeric string. Inconveniently, my brain retains passwords from years ago, and each new, non-reusable one is more difficult to remember. It literally has been only two weeks since I finally felt confident enough remembering my password that I stopped carrying it around in my wallet. The password conundrum is just one way security has become increasingly intrusive during the last decade. The return on all this security is questionable and in some cases, the results are farcical. For example, the message "Windows Firewall has blocked this program" provided a recent entertaining workplace security moment. The program turned out to be Microsoft Office Communicator, which we had just implemented in an attempt to wean employees away from "insecure" non-corporate forms of IM. After IT rebuilt my laptop, I thought I'd finally be able to use Wi-Fi when visiting my parents, but after...

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Columns in this issue