A stampede of passwords

A significant element of being in control of a situation is having the associated feeling: that calm sense that you’re not overwhelmed, that you can handle it. A small herd of elephants in the distance doesn’t seem all that dangerous. Not until it is picking up speed and heading in your direction. Not surprisingly, the same applies to passwords.

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, our blog A Stampede of Passwords came out on the IT-ology blog, and we thought you might enjoy it.

Have you ever asked a stranger how many passwords he or she has?

I have. (It’s an occupational hazard.)

I’ll start by saying that I don’t harass strangers in shopping malls. But, when I’m at a conference or trade event, or at a party, and I find myself talking with someone I’ve never met, the talk often turns to security and passwords – and then I pounce!

The great majority of answers fall into the following categories:


I don’t know.

And the #1 answer:


Almost no one says “none of your business!” (Hooray for friendly strangers and informal surveys!)

Too many” suggests that the person is overwhelmed. This is entirely understandable in today’s world where, just about everything we do requires an online password.

Depending on the body language, “I don’t know” usually means they just don’t care. Because passwords are so prevalent, they have lost their significance for these folks.

Neither of the first two answers suggests a healthy approach to security, but it’s the “10-15” response that is thought provoking because it is so specific, and it is such a popular answer. The response isn’t usually just blurted out without any thought: I can see the little cogs and sprockets turning inside their heads as they try to put a number on it. They are counting up the little cubbies in their brain where passwords are stored.

These folks think that arriving at an answer of 10-15 is great, because 10-15 of just about anything is pretty manageable. Even a stampede of 10-15 elephants doesn’t sound too dangerous.

And that’s the problem: 10-15 seems so reasonable.

Because the number they have in their heads sounds manageable, most people think they’re in control. And because they think they’re in control, they…

Read the rest at the IT-ology blog.