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20 May

Lazy Password Syndrome

Laziness is a universal syndrome – even the most active person, at some time succumbs to it! Strangely, it hits us in the most unlikely manner and in the most unlikely aspect of our life. The other unique aspect of this syndrome is we often allow it to creep up on us and then justify its impact. 


Technology is meant to make life easier for us, protect us and our data and ensure privacy of personal information. From our simple hand-held phones to the most complex computers there is a need to manage privacy and not allow unauthorized access, usage or worse still…abuse!!  “PASSWORDS” – the magical answer to this need have traditionally worked as keepers of our privacy – personal, companies or Governments. 


Unfortunately, the progress of technology goes hand in hand with the progress of ways to break into systems, hardware and software. And one impactful way all this affects us is identity thefts. Identity thefts, simply defined, is when someone else illegally gains access to your information and uses it for wrong reasons. 


One of the biggest reasons for identity thefts is the easy access to your passwords! Interestingly, you could be the biggest accomplice to the crime!! 


Just think – you tend to forget your password – so the easy solution, write it on a “post it” and stick it above your desk. Or create a file with all your passwords and keep it on your desktop, without password protecting the file. And the worst, write the password on a piece of paper and loose the paper! And God save the IT person in your office, who keeps prompting you to change your password regularly. 


And then comes the justification -” there are so many passwords I need to create – how do you expect me to remember them all”. 


Another universal reason for password thefts is the sheer predictability of the choice of passwords. Research has shown that creativity hits a low when it comes to choosing passwords and 83% of people use name of spouse, child, sibling, parent or pet and dates of birth as the password of preference. How easy is it to figure that out specially when the “thief” is someone who knows you!!

If I were to jargon this syndrome, I would call it “lazy password syndrome – LPS”


We humans are strange creatures – we get lazy about things that are critical and important to us – exercise, shedding egos and passwords!!

Your cyber security depends on your choice of passwords – here are a few dos and don’ts:


  • Understand the importance and seriousness of having “good passwords”
  • Do not oversimplify or over complicate the multiple passwords – both will work against you!
  • Be disciplined – do not leave these passwords within easy access
  • Change them whenever you feel that the password has been compromised, or you had to share with someone.
  • When you need to change – you need to change! Do not ignore the prompt from your IT Administrator. 
  • If you need to keep a document listing your passwords, make sure you “secure” the file with a super safe password. 
  • If you want, build a pattern into your choice of all your passwords – just don’t make the pattern predictable!


Technology and multiplicity of devices, accounts and applications will push the boundaries of your laziness… don’t succumb, the price you pay will be much more than you think, fight the LPS – it’s to your benefit.

Satish Mehta
Satish is a Chartered Accountant by education, a veteran of Housing Finance and a Credit Information practitioner with over 40 years of experience. He previously worked with HDFC Ltd – India’s largest mortgage finance company and was the founding Managing Director of CIBIL – India’s first and largest Credit Information Bureau. He has global experience in his chosen fields, is a Professor of Practice at a leading University and has written e-books for the World Bank on his subjects. He is passionate about learning & knowledge transfer & believes in giving back to the industry he worked in throughout his career.

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