From stress to rage and back again
I thought I was getting old and having trouble with passwords, but it seems that I’m not the only one. I saw in the newspaper that many people in their 20s are stressed over passwords: We need them for so many different sites. Password requirements are getting so complicated, and they need to be changed frequently, which frustrates even the young. A survey showed that the biggest complaint was the confusion created by portal sites, financial services and online shopping malls requiring different formats and combinations in the password.
Breaking a password is a game of probabilities. The more possible combinations there are with the given set of numbers and letters, the harder it is to break. Long and complicated passwords are more secure, but users find it inconvenient - finding a balance between security and convenience isn’t easy. People experience “password rage” beyond stress.
As damage from hacking increases, most companies have set up their own password guidelines. U.S. State Department employees have to follow password guidelines that are 30 pages long. However, the most commonly used password by Americans is “qwerty,” the six consecutive letters on the top left corner of the keyboard. LG Economic Research Institute’s 2012 study shows that Koreans’ favorite password is just as obvious: “password.”
On www.howsecureismypassword.net, one can check the security of his or her passwords. It’s only safe when it takes hacking programs “more than 100 years” to figure it out. Passwords like “qwerty” or “password” are broken instantly, and experts say that a user’s responsibility is to use at least eight characters, both letters and numbers, and to change it every six months. Otherwise, the site operator is responsible for any hacks.
The best way to shake off password stress is not using one, but it’s nearly impossible in order to live a modern life. We even need a password to get into our apartment buildings. Biometrics technology - detecting one’s retina or fingerprint - has yet to be commercialized due to costs and accuracy. We can use password management programs like PASSWORDfighter - but only under the grand premise that we don’t forget the password to access the program. That’s exactly why I’m reluctant.
*The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 23, Page 31
by BAE MYUNG-BOK