Most of my clients are surprised to learned that we spend a large percentage of our troubleshooting time on password issues, and within that particular category of issues, the majority of that time is spent on recovering or resetting lost passwords. They also worry that they are unusually bad at this aspect of their professional life, and are somewhat comforted to know that this is something that everyone, including C2, struggles with on a daily basis. Passwords are like the life insurance of technology usage – nobody wants it, but everyone needs it. I’ve yet to meet someone who was excited or pleased because they’ve been presented with a password prompt. It’s a chore, but you shouldn’t make it more work than it needs to be by leaving the management of it to a stack of sticky-notes, unsecured Excel spreadsheet or little black book that is safely tucked in a drawer of your desk, but unfortunately unreadable from your hotel room half way around the world.
Passwords aren’t going away any time soon
By now, you’ve probably realized that writing down, let alone memorizing passwords in today’s world is a losing proposition. Everything is internet connected, not just work technology – your doorbell, your fitness tracker, your thermostat, your car – everything has a password, and if you are doing it right, they all have unique, hard-to-guess passwords, right? Riiiight. Most of these types of services and devices rarely require you to enter the password, meaning you probably won’t remember them, or even realize they have a password that needs to be written down. But when it comes time to troubleshoot or access the service, you don’t want to be scrambling to find that password, or worse, wasting precious time resetting it.
Once you convince yourself that your current method of (barely) managing passwords isn’t going to be sustainable there is also the fear of letting someone else keep track of them for you. My clients’ biggest concern is, “What if my password management platform gets hacked?” which is a fair concern given that it seems like everyone and everything is getting hacked these days. There are no guarantees out there – hackers are clever and humans, as a rule, are careless enough that this combination results in security that is as flawed as we are. What I always tell my clients is that they don’t need to be perfectly secure – they just need to be more secure than the average person to improve their defenses significantly. I also remind them that they are more likely to be successfully hacked than a business whose primary mission is to protect your data. If there is one thing that criminals do not want to do is waste time chasing difficult marks. So make sure you’re not an easy target by upping your password game.
Next week – showing those passwords who’s boss
Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse from FreeDigitalPhotos.net