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19 April 2024

Identity chaos in the world of passwords

By Mily Chakrabarty

Phrases such as 'Open Sesame' and 'Close Sesame' have been weaving their magic on children since ancient times. Little did we know then that the inability to recall multiple, alpha-numeric passwords would lead to an identity crisis.

For people like me who find it difficult to remember multiple passwords and for people like you who rightly do not believe in writing down their passwords, the answer lies in password synchronisation.

It is a process that helps users maintain a single code for multiple systems instead of a separate password for every machine, device and network. This particular technology, claims one of my IT friends, raises the security level by using strong codes that cannot be easily cracked.

Such identity management methods are a boon for the average human mind that cannot store infinite identities and passwords. The situation gets further complicated because passwords often adhere to different rules and expire on different dates.

If only passwords were as simple as the ones used by Middle-eastern folk tale characters such as Aladdin and Ali Baba in ancient Arabia to gain access to magic caves. But there is hardly any magic left in passwords anymore.

Moving into the 21st century, magical words have shed their lyrical lilt and turned into complex alpha-numeric words that are but a set of characters that comprise digits, punctuation characters, non-dictionary words, non-guessable word sets and everything else that makes them extremely tough to recall.

Passwords rule our lives with an iron hand. From the moment we wake up, we are governed by them. Mobile phones have passwords. Coffee machines have gone hi-tech and they now come with code buttons. You have to push the right buttons to get into private elevators. You also have to tap a string of characters to prove your identity before your office security guard will let you in. ATMs, e-mail accounts, online banking, e-commerce, to mention just a few, require the much-loved and the much-dreaded secret word.

Identity chaos is a common affliction among those who use multiple passwords across a cross-section of networks, websites, gadgets and applications. Thanks to the identity management method I am fully cured. I no longer need to spend hours trying to figure out the exact permutation and combination of my car registration number with my grandmother's neighbour's birth date. I also make fewer calls to customer help desks.