Historical Significance of Passwords on World Password Day

World Password Day is a celebration on the first Thursday of May every year. The date serves to remind us of the importance of these codes in daily life. Passwords are the bane of existence to many users, but they’re pretty useful tools that help us keep everything we do online private. They’re your digital gatekeepers letting you enjoy multiple services online.

To celebrate National Password Day 2022, we’re taking a tour down memory lane to understand the need for passwords. You’ll also learn secure practices when creating passwords, the consequences of weak passwords, and why we may not be getting rid of them soon.

The Creation of Passwords

The idea behind passwords can be traced back to the first few centuries after Christ. The Shibboleth incident described in the 12th chapter of the Book of Judges in the Bible tells the story of a battle between clans who pronounced the word “Shibboleth” differently. Those who misspoke the word on the battlefield were put to the sword.

Did You Know? In today’s digital world, a shibboleth is a community-wide password that allows members to access a platform, server, or resource without revealing their personal identities.

The first known use of passwords as we know them today was portrayed in the 18th century in the classic work of fiction “Ali Baba and Forty Thieves,” where they spoke the secret words, “oOen Sesame” to open a magic gate. The phrase was first used by French Orientalist Antoine Galland in his translation of One Thousand and One Nights.

Passwords were introduced into computing technology back in 1960 by Professor Emeritus Fernando Corbató, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He put the groundbreaking idea into practice in the Compatible Time-Sharing System developed at the time. Since then, it has become a staple of digital and physical data security, guarding every interaction with computers, the internet, and mobile devices.

First Uses of Passwords

In the early days, passwords showed their strengths and weaknesses. They didn’t have much practical use for an ordinary person with no computer for most of the 60s and 70s, since a password was a tool primarily used in academic circles and computing environments. It wasn’t until computers found their way into households that people and companies started to see a security measure. 

Jim Clark recognized the true potential of passwords when he created Netscape, the first-ever commercial browser for the internet, and a corresponding security system using public key cryptography. However, it was challenging to implement due to the sheer magnitude of people using computers worldwide. Then it hit: Why not just use a password and username?  

Passwords became the common way to verify your identity online, but ironically, Jim Clark advocates for passwordless technology today  Still, it wouldn’t be World Password Day without acknowledging Clark’s contribution to cybersecurity.

Passwords as a Security Measure

You can’t turn left online without getting advice to prevent password attacks. Whenever you want to access a service or platform online, you typically need a username and password to create your account or profile. Passwords, pin codes, and similar tools inform platforms that you’re online, logged in, and present. As such, whoever has your credentials can access your accounts.

So what is World Password Day? We believe that it’s a chance to create awareness about the importance of having solid passwords. It’s been a while since passwords were the only means of online protection, but they’re the first line of defense for your data. That’s why they need to be created accordingly. 

World Password Day is also a great opportunity to learn additional protective measures for your online data. You and your company can get ahead by implementing more than one way to safeguard confidential information, including passwords.

A single password isn’t enough to fully protect you online, so two-factor authentication or biometrics is an excellent way to keep all your online interactions safe.

The Importance of Strong Passwords

On the upcoming World Password Day, take a few moments to consider the importance of a strong password for all your accounts. Cyberthreats are very real, and they affect many people and organizations daily. 

Every person, company, or institution online has likely faced one of these attacks at some point. A strong password can hold back an attacker if they don’t see a clear pattern to crack it.

The creation of strong passwords is perceived as an inconvenience by some. The classic formula of combining letters, characters, and numbers can be quite complex, especially if you have multiple accounts and can’t remember them. Using a password manager is a robust solution, but there’s a formula to make passwords strong and easy to remember.  

What Makes a Strong Password?

Since today is World Password Day, we’ll share one of the best trade secrets to create a strong password, courtesy of famous cyber security whistleblower Edward Snowden. 

The safest practice when creating passwords isn’t about picking random characters. It’s easier to choose a catchphrase or a sentence that gets stuck in your head. You can add an upper case at the beginning and a special character at the end to seal the deal.

It’s still essential to avoid repeating the same password all over your networks. If you manage to sync up this neat trick with all your accounts, it should be easier to remember different passwords for every site you visit.

The Consequences of Weak Passwords

As we’re celebrating World Password Day 2022, we should also talk about some of the worst consequences you face for having weak passwords. First of all, your digital and physical data security is exposed. As such, your infrastructure can be compromised by any cyberattacker willing to exploit such weaknesses.

Weak passwords also risk your company’s safety, leaving company accounts exposed to hackers. If you’re a business owner or run a company, a weak password can put your  confidential business, customer, and third-party data at risk. Any of these intrusions can cost you dearly. You can damage your brand’s reputation and lose the trust of your clients and business partners.

How Passwords Require Assistance These Days

To celebrate  World Password Day, learn the multiple backups available to keep your passwords—and therefore your organization—safe. We’re talking, of course, about two-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication, and biometrics. These systems have the same goal in common: Placing an extra layer of security over your accounts to protect your data.

Check your current bank login process. Some ask for an additional step to confirm your identity aside from your password. Try to log in on Facebook. The site offers different confirmation methods to ensure you’re the one accessing your account. Even mobile devices have these security measures in place, with biometrics that read your fingerprint or facial recognition to unlock your phone or tablet.

Why Do We Celebrate World Password Day?

It’s pretty simple. We celebrate the day to raise awareness of strong password creation. It’s also a special day to commemorate the launch of the book “Perfect Password: Selection, Protection, Authentication” by cybersecurity researcher Mark Burnett. The day has since been co-opted by Intel to address the critical need for stronger passwords in all systems.

The Future of Passwords

Now that you understand what World Password Day is and why it is crucial, it’s important to look at the future and know where their use is headed. Sadly, the picture still has a long way before getting clearer. As recently as 2020, the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report stated that nearly 80% of all online attacks were data breaches that happened because of weak passwords. 

Technology is doing its best to catch up with a trope that we can only fight with more education. Until a more seamless way to access data is designed, we’re stuck with passwords. This doesn’t have to be a somber challenge. By following the pointers we offered, it’s not so hard to have good password hygiene. Make sure to switch your passwords every three months to keep cyberattackers away and your data safe and sound.

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