How many user names and passwords do you have to remember? I have over 1000 and climbing daily! What’s a user to do?
It’s out of control. Every time you visit a new web site you usually have to register or create an account. In the process, you attempt to at least create a user name you’ve used on most other sites on which you’ve registered. What if that one is taken? You must then use something different from your preferred user name, which we in the tech world call a “one-off.”How many one-offs to you have? How many times a day do you visit a web site and ask for your user name or password to be sent because you don’t remember it? More and more of us are plagued with this nightmare every day.
You might ask, why hasn’t anyone figured this out and created a way to manage your user name and password once and it can then be used for all web sites? Microsoft has been trying with their Passport identity management system, but the distrust of Microsoft owning an infrastructure with something as powerful as your login, password and possible credit card information has not moved that idea forward.
Somehow an entity will need to own this infrastructure, but the actual electronic wallet that holds all your user names and passwords needs to be stored somewhere you control. That way you’re the only one who has it.
Mechanisms for doing this include smart cards (credit cards with a small microchip on it, like the American Express Blue) or USB keys. It also needs to be supported across multiple operating system platforms, not just Windows
One of the best solutions I’ve seen for the end user is a product called RoboForm. Unfortunately, this is a Windows-only platform, but if you are running on Windows, go for it. It captures all of your web credentials (user name, password), credit card and other personal information and saves them in a safe encrypted format in your locally stored electronic wallet. It gives you one-click login to all your web site accounts and can even automatically fill in order forms, credit card information, etc.
To go even further, this product will sync your electronic wallet credentials with your Palm, PocketPC or save the wallet on a USB key so you can take it and use it wherever you go… as long as it’s a Windows platform.
I’ve been nagging these folks for months to create something for the Mac as well as Linux. Hopefully they’ll figure out there is “gold in them thar hills.”
I think the level of pain is now high enough for consumers to demand a global login (single sign-on) platform. Unless of course you want to continue to plaster your monitor with PostIt’s or keep all your user names and passwords in a spreadsheet.