Passwords And How People Who Use Them Compromise Them

1267 words - 5 pages

Passwords are an integral part of the world of Information Technology. Since the inception of computer systems passwords have helped to protect important user information and resources, as well as keeping individuals who should not have access out. The people who use the various components of IT, such as file servers, e-mail and banking resources are often guilty of not selecting passwords that are sufficiently complex enough to keep their information secure. This is not necessarily the fault of people using the resources however because perhaps IT professionals should spend more time educating users about the consequences simple passwords can have. It is a difficult subject to tackle though simply because of the inherent laziness of people and the need to access information easily and quickly. The idea of a complex password can be cumbersome to many. "More important, users are too predictable in their choice of passwords. Left to their own devices, users often choose a password that is too short or too easy to guess." [2]To understand what a password is used for and how important it is for protecting resources it must first be defined. A password is like a key that unlocks a door into a house. It provides access to information that without the password, one would not have. "A password is a form of secret authentication data that is used to control access to a resource. The password is kept secret from those not allowed access, and those wishing to gain access are tested on whether or not they know the password and are granted or denied access accordingly." [1] Keys to a house are not given to a stranger without consequences such as personal property and valuables being stolen, and the same applies to a password. Computer systems that are compromised because of weak passwords can have important personal, financial and proprietary corporate information stolen. "Once an intruder with the necessary knowledge, experience, and tools gains entry to a system, he or she may be able to monitor other machines and systems on the same network and capture information about local users logging on to those machines. And if these users then connect to other networks, the intruder has the potential to penetrate and monitor the remote systems to which the local users connect, thereby increasing the likelihood of a breach in the security of those systems as well." [2]Passwords and other information security technologies are often compromised by people who use them because password security is not taken seriously enough. Chosen passwords are often simple four letter words, relate to something personal for the individual or are based on sequential numerical sequences. One method to increase the complexity of passwords is through the use of password authentication software. When a password is entered by the user the authentication software will compare the password against a series of defined protocols and alert the user if it does not meet a requirement, for example...

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