For those of us who’ve been using computers in the workplace for more than a decade or longer, we have frequent “Pepperidge Farm moments” about technology (and other stuff too, let’s be honest!) but for good reason. How many of you have been grinding through emails for the better part of a Monday morning, gathering up a pile of work, and when you go to open that attachment (which you know is safe, right?) and instead of getting to work, you get password checked. More often than not, if you are from my generation or possibly older, you’ll grind your teeth while looking up those credentials and reminisce about those halcyon days when apps just opened and let you get to work. They didn’t need constant updates, repairs and password checks. You opened them, did your work, and maybe left them open for days at a time, because they didn’t need to be relaunched three times a day just to keep it functioning.
Get off my lawn?
I know that joke doesn’t play as well for the younger crowd, but while they are quietly chuckling about our obsession with ancient technologies like email, they too are subject to the same plague of passwords and the various hoops we all have to jump through in our current technology age, and they don’t have those yesteryears to view through nostalgic glasses. Those bygone days may have seemed glorious; some of us remember when your appliances didn’t need Bluetooth to wash clothes, or doorbells needing WIFI to work properly, or needing a phone app to get a date. But those were also the days when pregnant women drank and smoked, kids rolled around in the backseat or cargo space without seatbelts, and computers (and ourselves) weren’t connected to the internet all the time.
The internet is and will be a permanent part of our culture, business and human progress, whether we like it or not. It has allowed us to globalize and democratize in a way that eclipses every other technology before it, but as I have mentioned before, not without a razor-sharp edge that cuts both ways. The rise of cyberthreats have forced our technology tools (and toys!) on a security march at a pace that no sane consumer finds comfortable, and the only way technology companies can keep us (moderately) safe and stay profitable (and therefore viable) is to move their pricing models to subscription-based services to support the constant development costs. Which also means for the foreseeable future you are going to have to regularly prove you have the right to use the technology to which you subscribe. The only way passwords go away is if we find a better way to authenticate you as you, and so far, even though the need and the threat has existed for well over a decade, no one has found a better, cost-effective solution than the password.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay