Password reminders

04Dec07

Everyone says you should change your passwords regularly. Some software programs even require you to do it every 30-90 days, and won’t let you use the same password twice. But what about all the websites you use, with their endless list of username and password combinations?

Keeping track of this information can be a project, and I bet that a lot of people never change their passwords for online services. After all, they’re saved by the browser, so why mess with it? While thinking about the implications of saved passwords, it hit me: Why not have the browser itself remind you to change them periodically, and help automate the process?

Perhaps there’s already a Firefox plugin to do this. Even so, building it right into the browser would be quite valuable. In the existing screens that control your password options, you could check a box for “Remind me to change my passwords regularly,” and then choose how often, e.g. “Every 30 days.” Now here’s where the magic comes in: Instead of just showing a message when the right time comes around, the browser would give you an option to pre-fill your old password when you get to the screen. This would remove one of the big obstacles to changing passwords: remembering the password you’re trying to change.

The same system could probably be used for other bits of housekeeping, e.g. “Show me all my passwords that might be too easy to guess” (based on some measure of password strength). In any event, since the browser is the preferred way of saving passwords for a lot of users, adding this sort of functionality would save people time, while making it much easier to keep your online accounts safe.



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