"Strong Passwords Can't Save Us"

Mat Honan, responding to the New York Times:

Yes, you are quite vulnerable to being hacked, and no matter what The New York Times tells you, passwords aren’t the solution; they are the very problem. The idea that you can devise passwords to keep hackers away is quaint and preposterous. It is an outdated, old-fashioned notion akin to protecting a city with a wall.

Following his awful hacking incident several months ago, Mat Honan has become the object of repeated journalistic scare tactics regarding online security. Harking upon tales of his loss of control and the importance of longer passwords, these articles all tend to overlook the contemporary problems facing online security as opposed to antiquated sentiments from the mid-nineties.

In his response, Honan highlights the true facts of online security. That is, there is simply no cure for hacking, aside from relying upon your own self-control to only use the most secure services.

Hacking and identity theft are, indeed, very serious problems. But perpetuating aging stereotypes about password length is going to do little to actually educate the public at large. In reality, the key is to simply be cautious in your usage of the Internet. Just as you wouldn't willfully share your personal information with strangers in an unfamiliar area of town, you mustn't do the same online.

Perhaps that sounds like an ill-fitting solution, but, sadly, until there is a drastic overhaul and rethinking of digital security, it's one of the only solutions we have.