Passwords are there to protect you, right. But it can be a pain remembering all those different passwords for every single website you log into. So what if Facebook decided to make it easier and not require a password to get into your account? Would that be good? Absolutely not! The use of passwords is called Authentication. They allow the user to authenticate or verify that it’s ok to let them have access to whatever is on file. Imagine if anyone who wanted to could just access your Facebook account with your username and no password. You may say, “Well, everything in there is public information anyway.” That’s true. But full access to your account means new information can be added, and existing information can be changed or deleted. Suppose you are up for a big promotion at your company and another candidate goes into your Facebook account and posts bad things about your history, false information. When your employer hears about it, you don’t get the promotion. What about that? Suppose you are happily married and an intruder goes into your Facebook account and posts pictures of someone who looks like you being intimate with someone who is not your spouse. What would you think about that? Are you starting to see the consequences of not having a password? Even though life may be a little easier not having to remember it? Technology has changed our lives, but there is a price to pay for that changing technology – it needs to be respected, and there need to be controls, such as authentication. Facebook authentication is called a Discretionary Access Control – meaning you, as the owner of the information, have the discretion as to who knows the password and can gain access. You also have the discretionary ability to change the password whenever you want, and (perhaps) to make it easy or difficult for someone to guess it. Authentication is just one type of “access control” intended to prevent unauthorized use of technology. Physical access control starts with good old fashioned door locks and keys; and extends, with technology changes, to computer based methods such as key cards, retina scans, embedded microchips, and many others. What about the comments and photos and videos that others can post to your timeline on Facebook? You have the ability to add some access controls there too. For example, you may decide who can post on your timeline or who can see what others post on your timeline. Without a password to get into your Facebook account, anyone can look up your user name, make those changes and you would never know. So what’s the purpose of telling you all this? The message that I want every reader to remember was already stated above but is well worth repeating: Technology has changed our lives, but there is a price to pay for that changing technology – it needs to be respected, and there need to be controls.
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