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2/26/2007
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A Virtual Post-It, Perhaps

Keeping all those passwords straight - not to mention secure - can suck up a lot of brain power

It's only fair to point out I don't like passwords. Oh, I understand their importance in security, but the fact is that we now have so many systems for which security is required, and such high requirements for security, that I either have to sprout a super-Mensa sort of brain to keep up with all the strong passwords, or carry around yet another piece of plastic and metal flotsam to remember them for me. I'm not really a big fan of either solution.

Of course, the fact that I think about this at all seems to put me in a different league than most people. (See Top 10 Admin Passwords to Avoid.) I've always had a system for generating passwords, one that involves stuff that I can remember but isn't obvious to anyone living outside my head. I've got to admit that even the lab passwords I work with are stronger than the strings found by the survey. I've occasionally wondered about the strength of my passwords, but after reading what Bruce Schneier had to say on the subject, I felt much better.

The point is that it isn't all that hard to find passwords that can be remembered and are reasonably secure. It does take paying attention to the issue and not blowing it off by repeating your username or the first six keys on any row of the keyboard. It also means making sure that the password for your network infrastructure equipment isn't on this list.

We do a lot of intrusive, irritating things in the name of security. Making sure our passwords are worth having shouldn't be on that list of things. But it should absolutely be on the list of things that we care enough about to get right.

— Curt Franklin is an enthusiastic security geek who used to be one of the Power Rangers (the red one, we think). His checkered past includes stints as a security consultant, an IT staffer at the University of Florida, security editor at Network Computing, chief podcaster for CMP Technology, and various editorial positions at places like InternetWeek, Byte, and Hog Monthly. Special to Dark Reading.

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