Tomorrow is World Password Day. I mean, we guess it is. That's what everyone is saying, at any rate. And since we here at the IT Insights Blog are suckers for a good official or even semi-official day — or, you know, maybe we're just shameless go-alongers — we have climbed aboard the World Password Day Express, and we invite you to join us, because this train is leaving the station.
Passwords have been in use since at least the time of Ali Baba, the humble woodcutter who discovers a cave in the forest where a band of thieves hides its treasure, as described in the historical text Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Some researchers dispute the historicity of Baba himself, while others assert that the cave of treasure is probably a later insertion into the historical record.
At any rate, Ali Baba realizes that the thieves enter and exit the cave by means of a simple two-word phrase, using "open sesame" to gain admittance and "close sesame" upon exiting. Right away you can see that the thieves should have at least changed to "poppyseed" or "coriander" for one of their phrases, because you should never use the same phrase for different passwords. Sheesh!
Essentially, one of the earliest references to a password in world culture is a story about some guys who instituted a password policy to protect their wealth, then lost that wealth because they used a non-complex, easily-guessable (or overhearable, as happens in the story) password that they never changed. Good on the thieves for being forward-thinking, of course, but come on, fellas.
In 2018, nearly every individual on the planet has passwords that provide secure access to everything from bank and credit card accounts to private e-mail and workplace computers. Most of us have so many passwords that there's almost no way to remember them all without cheating — writing them down — especially since everyone wants passwords to be complex and indecipherable.
It's annoying and frustrating to have so many important things tied to our ability to memorize (or otherwise keep track of) dozens of different text strings. Passwords are an important piece of the cybersecurity puzzle, however, and are largely dependent on you. So use multi-factor authentication where possible, make passwords complex, and change them often.