We are all familiar with the problems of passwords.
There are numerous articles in journals and newspapers about the dangers of weak passwords, as well as the risks associated with reusing the same passwords for different accounts which makes it very easy for a criminal to compromise our entire digital existence if a single password is stolen.
Let's take a moment to consider how close we are to our passwords. Many of our passwords are derived from our emotional attachments to children, pets, or favorite sports teams. But let's also consider our physical proximity to those passwords.
In late 2012, Lifehacker revealed some of the most common hiding places for passwords:
- Under the keyboard.
- Under the phone.
- Under the mouse pad.
- On the monitor.
- In the top drawer.
- Under the desk.
I doubt much has changed in the intervening three years.
Such hiding places might keep passwords safe from internet hackers, but they don't necessarily mean that your accounts will remain private from visitors to your office desk or home.
Is your password list within reach of you right now?
Are your passwords written down and taped to your monitor, hidden under your keyboard or mouse pad, under the desk phone, in your unlocked desk drawer, or under the desk?
Practicing this method of "security through obscurity" puts both you and your company at risk of a data breach that could not only be costly, but severely damaging to its reputation. One of the more noteworthy breaches of the last few years was the Target hack, which cost the firm in excess of $290 million after network passwords were stolen from its refrigeration, heating and air conditioning subcontractor.
If you see any of your friends, family, or colleagues practicing any of these security “fails”, please take the time to help them be better stewards of their online identities.
Treat all passwords as top secret information. A password as seemingly insignificant as your home Wi-Fi password, if leaked to the wrong person, has the potential to result in identity theft.
A high-tech method to protect your passwords is to use a password manager, but if you have opted for the low-tech method of writing any passwords on a Post-It note, please keep them in a secured location so that unauthorized eyes cannot see them.
Some simple steps towards password security can go a long way to keeping you and your data safe.