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    After 25 years on the job, a former provost examines the world on campus and in higher ed.

Well Protected…
August 21, 2011 - 11:19pm

With the growth of on-line services has come a wealth of convenience. I log into the Hofstra portal and my email around the globe. I rarely step inside of a bank. I purchase more and more products on-line, I pay more and more bills on-line, and I even access much of the national, regional and higher education news on-line. The rapidly increasing transition to more and more on-line products and services in the last decade has been a welcome change. I know I am more productive and efficient as a result and I even believe I have slightly more discretionary time.

Along with all the enhanced usage, there is clearly an increased need for security. My emails, what I buy, what I pay, and what I read is my business. Therefore with more and more of my accounts, there is a password along with the log-in ID and this is also as it should be. Initially, my approach was to use the same ID and the same password for almost all of my accounts. In a very few cases, there were password parameters that required I make changes and I did so whenever the need arose…but not more than that. As the accounts multiplied, it became clear to me that having so much reliance on one log-in and on one password diminished my security and increased my vulnerability; and so I began to vary both on a regular basis and to even change passwords on a regular basis. In all cases, I did stick to basic themes for both the ID and the password and so I ended up with many, many variations on a theme. I was clearly responding effectively to security concerns and to add further to the level of protection, I never wrote down any password and relied on my memory which served me well.

A few weeks ago, I needed to enter an important program on my hard drive that I had last accessed over a year ago. I open the program and get ready to enter the password but can’t remember exactly what the password is. And so I start to enter possible/likely passwords and nothing works. I even wrote down passwords as I try them since as I mentioned above, my passwords are close variations. Here too, nothing works. Periodically I come back to this program and to date nothing has worked. But I do feel confident that my data is secure. I have also opened two new accounts during this time and in each case have written down the ID and password information.

Since the technology exists I am ready for the ID/login function to be replaced by a thumb print or an eye scan. In the meantime I have started writing down this information for existing as well as new accounts on a secure site. I’ve learned my lesson. My memory is excellent but my many, many logins and passwords are more than a match. Maintaining security is critical but without accessibility, it leaves something to be desired. Having written this blog, I am feeling optimistic and heading right back to finding the right combination to access my data.


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