What is a Password?
During authentication, the password (or "passphrase"/"passcode") is the object used to verify the identity of a claimed party. Passwords are commonly alphanumeric character combinations like "I'mGl@dIT's_FRIdayy2daye!". Recently, cyber criminals have been seeing rapidly growing success by exploiting people that use weak passwords that can be easily guessed. Secret handshakes, signs, spoken phrases, physical gestures, sounds and more have also been used as passwords.
In authentication solutions such as two-factor authentication, passwords usually take the form of the first factor of authentication (something you know). Then the user would also have a token or use their biometric fingerprint as the second factor to complete the 2FA authentication process. This password is usually typed with a username to gain entry into the system such as the workstation computer or desktop application.
Guessing passwords is now easier (and more profitable) for cyber criminals than picking locks. Cyber criminals can utilize powerful computers to easily brute-force attack target accounts. This is because locks require users to simply carry a key, whereas passwords require memorization and typing. Users will have a tendency to issue themselves simpler, easily memorized, and quickly typed passwords - which means they are also much more susceptible to criminals simply guessing the easy passwords or breaking them through brute-force. Users must choose secure but memorable passwords, but inherently, memorable makes security more difficult.
Modern digital passwords were invented in the 20th century, but society has been using passwords for thousands of years. The Roman military, for example, used watchwords to identify friendly soldiers. Today, many organizations are utilizing new methods of authentication that continue to evolve from the password's humble origins. Read about the history of passwords.
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