Tahlequah Daily Press

February 5, 2014

More online sites requiring passwords

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — As social media expands, and more and more people become digitally connected, the basic assumption is that concern for security in the digital world will also grow.

Not necessarily. According to a recent report by Splashdata, an Internet security firm, the second most-used password in 2013 was “123456,” which could indicate the general public is less concerned about accounts being hacked.

Or it could be that coming up with a new password for every site that requires one is proving tiresome and a challenge to the memory, as passwords are required for everything from social media, to online banking, to email, to video services to email.

Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols also works for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma as an information technology specialist. So far, he relies on memory to keep track of his passwords.

“I have probably between eight and 10 passwords I rotate among my accounts, and just rely on my memory to keep up with them,” said Nichols. “I think, especially today, it’s important to change passwords frequently, but ‘frequently’ is subjective to the user.”

Nichols pointed out the necessity for more complex passwords is a fairly complex and controversial subject in the IT field. Passwords today increasingly require something beyond a simple alphabetic word or stream of numbers. In many cases, sites require a combination of upper-case and lower-case letters, along with digits and even punctuation marks or symbols – the idea being the more random the password, the less likely it is to hack.

“Everyone has an opinion about how complex passwords should be to increase security,” said Nichols. “But often, users dislike complex passwords because it decreases convenience.”

Steve Cypert uses a separate computer program to keep track of his passwords.

“I keep a [Microsoft] Word document with all of my various passwords and software licenses. I change passwords in a random manner, and not as often as I should. I stopped using Vimeo, as well as a popular auction site, over sign-in applications. My strategy is to stay up to date with Microsoft security patches and the ignore the ‘like’ button on viral posts.”

A number of sites, including Splashdata, have seized on the need to create passwords or to keep up with several at a time.

Some local residents use LastPass and 1Pass to generate passwords for all the other sites they visit. By using these services, the only password they have to remember is the one required to log on to the service.

“[I use] LastPass,” said Christine Shatwell. “Check it out; you will love it. It’s a program that remembers all your passwords for you.”

Local businessman Al Soto recommends using 1Password.

“It’s a great application that creates super-strong passwords, and creates a different one for each website,” said Soto. “The app, once you enter the master password, will repopulate it for you so you only have to remember one password. Of course, you need to have the app on every device you use or you’re stuck.”

Tenkiller area resident Renee LaCombe said her family categorizes passwords, a system that’s worked well for them.

“We came up with one that we use only for sites with financial access, like banks and shopping, and another for non-critical sites,” said LaCombe. “Both have the magical mixture of caps, lower-case, symbols and numbers.”

Some local residents, like Leon Briggs, use the Cherokee language to create passwords.

“I use Cherokee [to create passwords] also, but sometimes I’m told I need a real last name,” said Lila Killer.

Some people resort to pen and paper to keep track of their ever-growing lists of passwords.

“I have an address book,” said Kathy Tibbits. “I put the website URL under the right alphabet page, and when I change passwords, I mark through the previous password. But this only works when I’m near my password book.”

Jim Masters Jr. said he, too, has tried to keep a paper list of passwords.

“But then I can’t find the notebook,” said Masters Jr. “I change passwords when I either forget them or where they’re written down. I must confess, one of our devices’ password is ‘password.’ Make that was; the device burned up. Pencil and paper are looking better every day.”