Filed Under:Carrier Innovations, Information Security

The Problem with Passwords: There’s Just Too Many of Them

I received one of those dreaded messages from our IT department a couple of weeks ago. My password to log onto the company’s systems was about to expire and I needed to come up with a new password—one that I hadn’t already used over the past year.

I tend to ignore deadlines until the last minute, but the next day the message re-appeared and it was like a ticking time bomb—the days were counting down.

Fortunately, I don’t have a multitude of systems to log onto here at work. We’re a publishing company—at least that’s what I tell people—not an independent insurance agency that represents a dozen or more insurance carriers.

I am a consumer, though, and I pay a lot of bills over the Internet. There’s my bank, the phone company, my cellular provider, the cable company, my power company, a few retail sites, and most important, my iTunes account.

Like most people, I try not to worry about security. I do use the same password for as many of these sites as possible, but that rarely works. I hate it when I have to enter a new password and I’m graded on the password’s strength or weakness. So, try as I might, it is nearly impossible to remember them all.

I’d like to tell you that I keep printed versions of these passwords locked in a safe in my basement, but that would be a lie. I will tell you that I do not have them on post-it notes stuck to my monitor.

In a recent slideshow on agency technology, Ben Page, an agency owner himself, listed online password managers as one of the most common fixes for agency technology gaps. He offered an example of a website agencies can use to keep track of all their passwords.

This sounds quite useful, but I believe the insurance industry can get together to solve this problem through the ID Federation, which is working with carriers to have them back up their claims of being easy to do business with through a single sign-on that will allow agencies to focus on business rather than passwords.

There are number of cooperative attempts to get insurers working together and almost as many excuses why carriers believe their relationship with agencies should be proprietary. Single sign-on should be a simple enough concept for carriers to endorse. Remember that when the dreaded message pops up to change your password again.

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