For once, I wasn’t actually late to the Bitcoin party, I just didn’t buy any. Rather, I, and several of you out there, chose to invest in a start-up company that operated a back-end transaction process using Bitcoin. We, quite rightly IMHO, believed that for the cryptocurrency to be adopted, and to consequently grow in value, it first needed specific commercial applications that proved the tokens represented both a store of value and a means of exchange. Doh, like what were we thinking!
So, when I hear of tales where early-adopters have accidentally thrown away their hard-drives containing the key to the Bitcoins they mined in 2011, my heart bleeds. Mind, I do admit to a twinge of sympathy when stories of forgotten passwords do the rounds, as we’ve all been there. Many times. Computer passwords are the modern-day gatekeepers to our digital lives, veritable bouncers on the virtual nightclub door and, whilst irritatingly difficult to remember, they are apparently ever so easy to crack. And with the average person now needing to remember close to eighty passwords, we’re forgetting more of them, more often.
Because complex passwords are difficult to remember we tend to go for the easy option and a recent Google poll shows the majority of us reuse the same memorable password across multiple accounts. Parents’, siblings’ and children’s names are all up there with the obvious ones, along with your first pet’s name, the date of your marriage and the team you support. Not good, according to Prof Lorrie Cranor, who describes the best password as a completely random jumbled concoction of letters and numbers, which are obviously nigh on impossible to repeat, predict, or, for that matter, recall! She explains that, as humans, we all think alike and we all do the same things when creating our own ‘personal’ passwords. The key is to think outside the box, but to think outside of the box more than everyone else is thinking outside of their own box. I have a ‘formula’ but don’t consider it for one second unique or criminal-defeating.
The alternatives are to store all your usernames and passwords in one of the tech company’s secure vaults, a password manager. Apparently, the equivalent of a hidden book with all the info written down, it would probably give me more sleepless nights than my own woefully inadequate formula, and I am I really going to trust the behemoths I spend so much time bemoaning? But worry not, readers, help is at hand in the form of advanced biometrics.
Not content with eyeball and voice recognition, big tech is now developing ways of identifying us not only by our fingerprint but by the unique contours of our ears, the way we move a keyboard mouse, the peculiar manner in which we hold our precious smartphone, our particular gait or, and I kid you not, from our breath. The tyranny of passwords is coming to an end. Me, I quite like the sound of writing them all down in a book and hiding it in the special place only I know. Now, where is that special place again…