Why We Should Not Know Our Own Passwords

Why We Should Not Know Our Own Passwords

Published By: The Conversation, 3/9/2017

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Elon University Professor Megan Squire looks into possible methods for protecting the data on your smartphone and social media accounts. The article focuses on potential searches by US border agents of people traveling from other countries. She explains several different methods of smartphone privacy protection, such as a system that uses your locations and habitual gesture patterns to identify you, or passwords even you don’t know.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: 12

Extended Discussion Questions

  • What security measures do you currently use to protect your personal data?
    • Do you think those measures are sufficient to protect your sensitive information? Why or why not?
  • Does thinking about scenarios like this make you change what you do to protect your online privacy?
    • Does it change how you decide what information to share on social media?
    • What if you knew you would have to give this type of access to someone in order to get a job you wanted? Would that change anything for you? (Background: This is becoming more common practice, though illegal now in some states.)
  • If you have a password-protected device such as a mobile phone, how might habit- and location-based authentication make it easier to use?
    • What are some other advantages of this method over password authentication?
    • What are some of the advantages of password authentication?
  • How might habit- and location-based authentication on their mobile devices affect people who rely on accessibility features such as voice commands or screen readers?
  • Aside from making it impossible for a border agent to use someone’s phone, what other applications might habit-based authentication be used for?

Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.1.1J Sensor networks facilitate new ways of interacting with the environment and with physical systems.
  • EK 7.3.1A Innovations enabled by computing raise legal and ethical concerns.
  • EK 7.3.1G Privacy and security concerns arise in the development and use of computational systems and artifacts.

Other CSP Big Ideas:

  • Idea 3 Data and Information

Banner Image:Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop“, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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