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Writing Passwords Down

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Users are admonished to "never write down your password." The reason is simple, plausible and wrong : if you write down your password, somebody else can find it and use it to break into your computer.

In reality a password that is memorized is no more secure than the same password written down let's say on a card in your wallet or in your Casio databank watches. Actually it is less secure as your own  "senior moments" are more dangerous then intruders (and probably more frequent). Chances that if your wallet is stolen password will be used are pretty slim unless you are a VIP person and somebody hunted for your wallet with a specific goal. For an ordinary person they are probably close to zero.

Still while writing down passwords is a good and prudent practice (unlike what you can read is a lot of security-related publications ;-)  you might benefit from following a few precautions:

Many people store their passwords on a regular phone (not smartphone with Internet access like iPhone -- never do that) but that is not that good idea. The rule is that is you use a device is should have no internet connectivity. Another drawback is that is you forget phone at home or it is stolen and you do not have another copy. For a paper card in your wallet making copy is trivial. Casio Databank watches are a better device then phone but for them a backup is also problem.  In any case you need to download periodically the "sheetsheet" from the phone (most phones have a USB connection now) and for that a simple note is a better deal. 

Using sheet can allow you to diversify your password base which increases your security as a person has difficulties remembering more then, say, seven different passwords. Here are some other things to avoid:


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[Jul 16, 2014] Microsoft tells internet users that they are 'better off' reusing old passwords than creating new ones by Chris Green

16 July 2014 | independent.co.uk

Internet users who are sick of endlessly memorising passwords would be much better off reusing the same one over and over, according to surprising research published by Microsoft.

Complex, unique passwords should only be used to access highly sensitive data such as a person’s bank account, says the academic paper published by Microsoft Research, the R&D arm of the software firm. Simpler passwords should then be recycled for low-risk websites, the researchers argue.

... ... ...

The savvy web user should make a list of the websites they regularly visit and divide them into sensitive and non-sensitive piles, the paper says, devoting as much brainpower as possible to creating complex passwords for the former and as little as possible to the latter.

... “Despite violating long-standing password guidance, writing passwords down is, if properly done, increasingly accepted as a coping mechanism,” they write.

“Other strategies to cope with the human impossibility of using strong passwords everywhere without re-use include single sign-on, use of email-based password reset mechanisms, and password managers.”

The research was conducted by Dinei Florêncio and Cormac Herley from Microsoft Research and Paul C. van Oorschot from Carleton University in Canada.



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Last modified: October, 11, 2015