You Want People To Have Strong Passwords? What Are You, Some Kind Of Communist?
from the rights-and-responsibilities dept
Passwords are a pain. If they are strong, they are hard to remember, and if you can remember them they probably aren’t strong. Of course, there are all those excellent password managers out there, but using them requires an even stronger password…. No wonder, then, that time and again we hear of people giving up and using simple-to-guess passwords, and of the awful consequences that result.
Stefania Maurizi points us to an Italian journalist, Nicola Porro, who’s also had enough. He’s written a blog for the newspaper Il Giornale, in which he describes tech people who keep giving him a hard time over his weak passwords as the “new communists” (original in Italian):
So why do I say they are communists, and not just idiots? For the simple reason that they don’t believe in free will, or in individual freedom. Can’t I be free not to change my password every month? Can’t I be free to use a simple password? Can’t I be free to choose whatever the devil I like? Can’t I be free to consider it irrelevant whether somebody steals my data? Isn’t it an option that whenever I’m online they screw me over and steal precious information from yours truly and that I’m not at liberty to put myself intentionally in danger in order to have an convenient password?
He goes on to say:
and as for anyone who dares to say something about the risks of getting conned blah blah blah, I am quite happy to sign online once and for all that I accept full responsibility for any password theft.
I wonder if he’s considered what might happen if his system were taken over as part of a botnet that took out a hospital’s computer system, say, or were used to host and distribute child pornography: would he be happy about accepting responsibility for those too?
Maybe those sysadmins who keep bothering him to choose a decent password aren’t “new communists”, just concerned, responsible people who understand that every computer user connected to the Internet is necessarily part of an online community with responsibilities to everyone else there, just like in ordinary life. Choosing a good password is really no different from following the basic rules of the road: it’s not a question of losing your personal freedom, but of showing consideration for your fellow human beings who may be harmed if you don’t.