Five-year plan: 8 problems IT must solve

You can't march into the future dragging old problems that should already have a solution. Here's what must be done

By Paul Venezia, InfoWorld |  Business, IPv6, spam

IT fix No. 5: The end of the passwordThe days of the alphanumeric password are already over, but nobody seems to have noticed yet. As you bounce from site to site, application to application, OS to OS, you'll find a wide variety of password strength requirements. Some are ridiculously lax, like the banking sites that refuse to accept special characters in passwords, to those requiring such a complex password that the user will almost always have to write it down to remember it. Both of these extremes result in the same problem: shamefully low security.

There's also the significant annoyance of trying to enter strong passwords on mobile devices. With or without a physical keyboard, it can present a significant challenge. No matter how you cut it, passwords are just a bad idea.

But what can replace them? Smart cards and USB keys are great for one network or one device, but the problem is bigger than that. In a world of cloud services, iPads, and the Chrome OS, tokens aren't the answer. It may be that the only "something you have" as convenient and portable as a password -- and that could conceivably be applied across many systems and devices -- is biometric authentication. But then every client device would need to be fitted with the required fingerprint or iris scanner.

Biometrics are also problematic from a user standpoint. Although I don't necessarily share this concern, I've heard several people mention that they'd rather not lose a thumb to a villain who's trying to crack into their bank account. Then there's the possibility that if your biometric code was compromised, you can't just reset it since it's, well, attached and reasonably permanent.

Voice recognition, facial recognition, or any other form of recognition will have to supplant the common password eventually -- let's hope it's sooner rather than later.

IT fix No. 6: SpamIf it were possible to redirect the time and effort poured into antispam and antimalware code over the last 10 years, we'd already have colonies on Mars and probably a new form of renewable energy.

As it stands, however, we're not much better off than we were five years ago. The volume of spam has stayed fairly consistent, at somewhere between 95 and 98 percent of all email. It's possible that the number of spam emails that actually make it into recipient's mailboxes has decreased somewhat due to enhanced filtering techniques and an army of humans employed at various antispam companies flagging common spam emails. However, the problem continues unabated.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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