Wednesday, August 13, 2008

TECHNOLOGY: What is worse than reusing passwords?

Do you use the same password all over the place? Yes, you probably do – whether you know it or not. The fact is, while some people still casually use the same password for many sites, almost all of us reuse what we may think of as “meta passwords” – the information used to reset passwords. That, I argue, is worse than reusing passwords - but harder to avoid!

When you have forgotten your password, some sites send you an email with a link for you to click. Phishers who have stolen access to your email account can do that, too. Other sites will ask you for your mother’s maiden name, the name of your best friend, what city you grew up in, or what brand your first car was. Did you know that phishers can answer those questions, too?

Like the city you grew up in, your mother’s maiden name can be derived from public records – from birth certificates and marriage certificates to be specific. (Download PDF for details.)

Facebook might unwittingly tell the name of your best friend. And,until quite recently, Ford with its 25% market share had a pretty good chance of being the brand of your first car!


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