More than ever, passwords are a part of our lives, the key to our digital identity. On average, each of us has 25 online accounts, and that is beyond the internal systems you also need to authenticate to in your business. You should have unique, complex passwords for each system, but who can remember all of that? Windows 8 will include features that make it easier to manage your digital identity so your business's data stays safe.
The Problem with Passwords
In the BuildingWindows 8 blog earlier this week, Microsoft’s Dustin Ingalls said that despite each of us having 25 online accounts, on average we only have six unique passwords. Anyone trying to gain entry to your company's data knows that if they can get access to any password a user has, there's a good chance they can use it to gain entry to other services. There are generally four methods attackers will use to access a password: phishing, keylogging, guessing, and cracking. Windows 8 will address each of them in the following ways.
1. Protect Against Phishing and Keylogging
These tools protect your computer against malware, which once installed can access your entire computer and any remote resources to which you have access.
Secure Boot: Using UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), the boot-up process of your computer is protected so bootkits and rootkits are prevented.
SmartScreen: By collecting information about bad websites and software, SmartScreen can use the reputation of a URL or application to determine how safe it is to open, protecting from known attacks and cautioning about those that are uncertain.
Windows Defender: Previously thought of as virus protection, Windows Defender now protects against all types of malware, including viruses, worms, bots and rootkits.
2. Protect Against Guessing and Cracking
The strength of your password is critical in combating guessing and cracking. Windows 8 makes it easier to create, use and manage unique and complex passwords.
Store Accounts: Windows 8 allows you to save the login name and password for websites that allow it, similar to most web browsers. Not only Internet Explorer, but other web browsers and software can make use of it, making it easier to use unique and complex passwords that you don’t need to remember.
Sync Passwords: If you use multiple computers, having passwords stored on one doesn't help when logging into a service on another. Windows 8 can sync your account information through Windows Live to trusted PCs, making unique and complex passwords a more practical option.
Virtual Smart Card: Using the Trusted Platform Module found in many business PCs, passwords can be avoided by using a software-based version of a smart card that works wherever physical smart cards do.
3. Protect Against Your Own Forgetfulness
Finally, users won’t use strong passwords if they are afraid they will forget them, which is easy to do when managing so many of them. Windows 8 makes recovering from a forgotten password easier.
USB Recovery: Creating a USB recovery stick before you forget your password will help you reset it should that ever happen.
Reset from Another PC: If you use a Windows Live ID to login, you can reset your password from another PC.
Two Factor Authentication: By linking your account to a secondary email address or a mobile phone, you can reset a lost password by proving you are the rightful owner of the account.
JosephFieber has 25 years experience as an IT pro, with a background in computer consulting and software training. Follow him on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, or contact him through his website, JosephFieber.com.