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The Reset Is The Login

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:36 am    Post subject: The Reset Is The Login Reply with quote

In "The First One Is Free", Brian Hansen discusses workarounds for password "hint" questions.

It brought to mind a discussion I was having with a colleague about a NYT article suggesting alternatives to the standard username/password authentication scheme is is most used.

I always found the password "hint" strange since it immediately puts non-randomess into the supposedly random selection of passwords. For example, I can create any password I want, but if I forget it, it asks me my mother's maiden name. Well, at that point, my password might as well my mother's maiden name because that's all the information that is needed to get into my account.

Now typically, but not always, these password hints end up with either a password being mailed to you or a reset link with a one time use key, but sometimes they result in being thrown into a password reset screen! So, all one has to do is go to the many geneology sites, look up a mother's maiden name and then crack the site access.

Given that we "reset" passwords using email with special links, I have often wondered if the reset process should be actually procedure. Example: I assume I don't have a password. If I want to access a site, I enter my username. The site sends me an email, I click on it and it lets me enter the site -- but I can only use that link once.

Now, of course, this may be a bit cumberson if I have to use both a browser and an email client, but one can imagine some small piece of software that can send the username and then get back via email a "token" that allows the login.
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