Huffington Post brings us a video that comes as no surprise. The most used password is PASSWORD1, followed by Welcome. That’s right, folks. If you only try those 2 passwords you’ll be able to hack into 6% of user accounts out there – and that includes consumer and business users. From a consumer perspective it’s a little alarming that my doctors office might keep my electronic medical records with all my ID and payment information under such tight “lock and key.”
Part of the problem is that every account requires passwords, and each system has different requirements. Let’s look at a few common consumer and business guidelines for passwords:
1. Must be at least 6 (or 8, or more) characters
2. Must contain at least one number and/or one special symbol
3. Must not contain your username, sometimes, may not contain more than 3 consecutive characters from your username
4. Must contain at least one capital letter
5. Should not contain your birthdate, pet’s name, or any similar distinguishing factors
6. Should be changed regularly
7. Must not be a word found in the dictionary
8. Must not contain your name
9. Must be fewer than 12 characters
10. Must be memorable without being written down
11. Should not be identical to passwords kept for other accounts
Ouch! It would be hard to come up with 2-3 passwords that fit the bill, much less dozens (for the dozens of accounts we each have), with the ability to change it regularly. And unfortunately, as the technology landscape continues to evolve and adapt to the needs and whims of culture, passwords need to be equally easy to enter on a mobile device with its tiny screen and truncated keyboard. Hm. Now that adds to the problem. Password1 doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, from a usability standpoint. And let’s face it. For the consumer, and even for the business user, convenience often trumps security.
Enter picture passwords. Perfect for touch screens. Easier to remember than alphanumeric text. More convenient to tap on a few pictures than enter a 6-12 character gobbledegook. Now, randomly arrange a set of pictures on the screen and our simple picture password becomes even more secure, without interfering with usability or convenience. Password problem solved.