Password chaos is a feeling of confusion or frustration felt by computer users with too many passwords and user names to remember. Password chaos as a phenomenon emerged in the 1990s with the emergence and popularization of the Internet. It can lead to a mixing of passwords and usernames and can cause difficulty logging in to many important programs or systems.
Password chaos can be found in the simple business person or the Internet-savvy teenager. Among the possible password and user names to be remembered are a computer log-in, system log-in, multiple e-mail addresses, work log-in, intranet log-in, Myspace, Facebook, fantasy football, Amazon.com, and a myriad of other essential on-line programs. Some programs have attempted to alleviate concerns by using password questions such as “What is your mother’s maiden name?” to remind the user of the password, but still others make it difficult by only allowing up to two or three incorrect log-ins.
Password chaos can be made more difficult by the restrictions set on password lengths and compositions by many programs. Some allow a maximum number of letters, other a minimum. Some allow for only lower-case letter, some are not case-sensitive. Some require one numeric character, some do not. Some do not allow alpha-numeric symbols, some do. Some programs require a password be changed every so often, some do not. These differences make the creation of passwords and the art of remembering them difficult.
Also known as “identity chaos,” password chaos can be compounded by the remembering of dates, bank account numbers, phone numbers, and a variety of other things in an increasingly digital world. Password chaos arises out of a need for security: many people refuse to use the same password for different programs because of the higher susceptibility to risk if one password is stolen.
Many programs and websites have attempted to reduce password chaos by allowing user names to be stored into a computer. The storing of a username into a computer allows a user to simply remember a list of passwords, instead of a list of both. Other programs have allowed users to keep both their username and password stored, allowing for instant access to a site. This, however, is not very safe and not recommended to those storing sensitive date.
The problem of password chaos can be solved by a digital wallet, or e-wallet. This can often be simply a document or list on a user’s machine. The digital wallet, like a real wallet, holds all of the owner’s important identity information in an organized manner. The digital wallet should keep track of individual programs, user names, passwords, and how often they should be changed.