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Password overload: How many can we actually remember?

6:28 PM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Passwords are getting more complex and more accounts are starting to require them. Where are we heading in this password overload?

"First I have a log-in that gets me into my computer, then all the programs I use, which are probably five or six programs, all have log-ins and passwords," said Jacque Crawford at JCR Systems.

Jacque Crawford is a controller for JCR systems, a local company that provides computers to restaurants and retail companies. She has to remember passwords for numerous company accounts to track orders and keep up with the company's finances. And she's had to develop strategies for keeping up.

"I have a notebook that I put some of the passwords in because I have to, on a daily basis, I have to get into probably ten different sites that all have different passwords and log-ins. So there's a lot, a lot of passwords I couldn't remember by myself," said Crawford.

And she's not alone. The Password Research Institute conducted a study in 2000 and found that 64 percent of users have written down their passwords at least once.

"Ninety-eight percent of the data breaches are occurring from outside external sources and it means people are getting malware into their system or people are hacking into their system and by using default user names and passwords it just makes the hackers very easy," said Michael Darby of JCR Systems.

Darby is the sonic wall security administrator for JCR systems. He makes sure firewalls for all their customers remain un-breached. He said secure sites will continue to force users to create complex passwords and even involve more steps, like asking you to decipher a hidden code even after entering your password.

"Factors of authentication are things that you are, things that you know, and things that you have. Things that you are would be a biometric, a fingerprint or retinal scan, things that you know would be a password, things that you have would be a one-time use code," said Darby.

Banks and credit card companies are more likely to use those types of security measures. Some are already using texting as a way to confirm user authentication. But Darby believes biometrics may be the wave of the future.

"It's a game and it's a game that you just have to stay one step ahead of the hackers and it's no fun," said Darby.

There's no way to measure the size of your memory, but one helpful tip experts say will help you remember a password is to give it importance; otherwise it will go into your short-term memory and you'll continue to forget. Writing out passwords several times may also help you remember.

First for you:

-Avoid being hacked by creating strong passwords.

-Don't use your first or last name for any password and always try to use a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols.

-Experts say to change your password every 30 to 60 days to avoid getting hacked.

-Never share your passwords.

Here are some helpful links for creating passwords and maintaining a secure account:

http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Password-You-Can-Remember

http://wolfram.org/writing/howto/password.html

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