Wait. What? Aren’t passwords valuable now? When did they stop being valuable? We need passwords for everything these days; for so many websites and logins that we need password managers to manage them all. What went wrong?
It all started years ago when a computer guru outlined how to make a secure password.
- Longer passwords: Long is hard to crack. Use a 12-character password or longer.
- Things to avoid: Names, places, dictionary words.
- Mix it up. Use variations on capitalization, spelling, numbers, and punctuation.
- Change the password every six months.
Anybody see a problem there? The whole secure password problem was so convoluted for most people that they chose instead a generation of easy to hack and crack passwords which were more convenient but less secure, and that spawned a whole generation of security problems (Barbara Marie Brannan, writing in Mac360, has a delightfully done expose on the issue and all the good advice you need for a more secure password that is easy to remember).
Apple to the rescue.
Touch ID was born and spawned the age of higher security with even more convenience. Even my password manager app uses Touch ID. The problem with Touch ID is that authorities can circumvent Apple’s security apparatus with a court order. The conflicted juries are still out on whether or not U.S. courts can compel iPhone owners to cough up the password, but that’s another issue.
Again, Apple to the rescue.
iOS 11 for iPhone and iPad has a new feature now called the Cop Button. Liam Tung explains:
In iOS 11, disabling Touch ID can be done within seconds with one finger or thumb. All it will take is five quick clicks on the sleep button, and the phone will require the passcode to access data on the device.
The feature is actually part of a new Emergency SOS mode in iOS 11, which allows users to configure the phone to automatically call an emergency number.
Simply put, tap the iPhone’s Home button five times and Touch ID is disabled and the password is required to gain entry. That’s where a longer, convoluted, complex password is your friend.
From How To Geek:
Maybe you can find it easy to remember a sentence like “The first house I ever lived in was 613 Fake Street. Rent was $400 per month.” You can then turn that into a password by using the first digits of each word, so your password would become TfhIeliw613FS.Rw$4pm. This is a strong password at 21 digits. Sure, a true random password might include a few more numbers and symbols and upper-case letters scrambled around, but it’s not bad at all. You just need to remember two simple sentences, so it’s easy to remember.
When iOS 11’s new SOS feature is activated, the screen displays an option to Power Off, and a second SOS Emergency slider which then opens a second screen to an emergency button. Touch ID can only be implemented with the iPhone’s password.
Why this constant game of Whack-a-Mole? Things change. What worked yesterday may not work the same way today.
One more time, Apple to the rescue.
iPhone and iPad users with Touch ID have another option to secure their devices from criminals or government authorities (sometimes it’s difficult to tell them apart). In Settings, scroll down and tap the Touch ID & Passcode section. At the bottom you’ll find an Erase Data option. Turning it on means the iPhone will erase itself after 10 failed passcode attempts. The longer the iPhone’s password, the more likely criminals or government spooks will trigger the erase feature as they attempt to open your iPhone.
What about iPhone 8? Rumors from the street say Touch ID will be replaced by face recognition. How about this? Keep one eye or both eyes closed when the iPhone scans your face to create the secure image. Then, if forced to open your iPhone via face recognition, leave the eye open. Maybe that will be enough to prevent access.
Regardless, the game of Whack-a-Mole will continue.