Death of the password? It’s only 60!

(Last updated on October 14, 2021)

We marked our calendars, counting down the months, days, and minutes. Now, the day we’ve all been waiting for is here: the 60th anniversary of the computer password! 

Since its beginning in an MIT lab in the fall of 1961, we’ve developed a complex relationship with the password – even the inventor of the computer password, Fernando Corbato, acknowledged that passwords can be “kind of a nightmare.” Yet, they continue to be the most reliable and widely used tool to guard online accounts, despite Microsoft and others’ claims of an imminent “passwordless future.” 

To celebrate the password’s diamond jubilee, we surveyed nearly 100 of our customers, who are responsible for their organization’s adoption and implementation of password and authentication policies. Unsurprisingly, the findings showed a world ready to rid itself of the password (at just 60 years old!) even though we are still years away from no longer having to type a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters on a daily basis.  

Survey highlights include:  

  • Nearly 75% report they would like to stop using traditional passwords to secure their accounts. To those other 25% who are standing by the password, we salute you. 
  • While some might be ready for a future with fingerprints and voice recognition to secure their accounts, our customers believe we’ll see self-driving cars before retina scan authentication becomes mainstream. 
  • Only 18% of customers have stuck it out with only traditional authentication methods, including passwords, single sign-on, and multi-factor. Others have begun to implement alternative authentication methods in addition to passwords such as facial recognition, fingerprint sensors, voice recognition, and security keys. 
  • 20% of respondents reported that in the next 5 years, they believe their companies will remain loyal to traditional authentication methods, such as the password. Behind the password, nearly 15% see fingerprint sensors in their future. 
  • Looking to the next 20 years, 63% of respondents predict a future without passwords, with 60% reporting they would switch to a passwordless solution to secure their Active Directory. 
password audit
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We all have a love/hate relationship with our passwords. But they’ve been with us for 60 years, and contrary to popular opinion, they’re not going away anytime soon. Even with all of these biometric authentication methods, we’ll still need the password for backup. There’s no easy way to reset a fingerprint or an eyeball, after all.  

But in the meantime, we’re looking forward to traveling in style in self-driving cars. Contact us to learn about how we help thousands of organizations protect their Active Directory environments from common cyber security attacks.  

For media inquiries, email specops@arpr.com

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