Quick Pitch: PasswordGear turns passwords into stories.
Genius Idea: Making complex passwords easy to remember.
Using complex passwords for social networking sites, email accounts and computer logins has a become a necessary task for internet users who wish to avoid being hacked. Tools such as 1Password and LastPass exist to make the process a bit more manageable, but they’re not exactly fun or approachable for low-tech types.
“There are about two billion internet users out there,” Christopher Miller, creator of PasswordGear, a story-driven password memory aide for iPhone, says, “but about 99.9% of them have problems with passwords. They either forget them or have passwords that aren’t as strong as they should be.”
“And, there’s still so many people who don’t care about passwords,” he adds.
Released three weeks ago, PasswordGear for iPhone is meant to appeal to those of us with password-phobia. Consider yourself in this bunch if you use your dog’s name, mother’s maiden name or favorite ice cream flavor as your master password of choice.
Fire up the application and use it to generate a password between six and 20 characters that includes any combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, and numbers.
After generating an elaborate password, PasswordGear helps you memorize it with a few fun exercises. The primary exercise asks you to create a story that strings together letters and numbers. You can do so with your own imagination or use the cutesy in-app wizard to help you fill in the plot. As you go, PasswordGear will then present you with pictures as prompts for your story.
If you pass the final memory test, the app will instruct you to save your password elsewhere.
The $0.99 application is not designed to be a password manager — it’s more like a memorization tool for those looking to make their master passwords more obscure and less personal. Miller says he uses the application in conjunction with LastPass; he sees PasswordGear as perfect for creating and remembering strong passwords for the sites, programs or systems you access most frequently.
PasswordGear is both fun and clever, but does it work? You’ll have to try it for yourself to know for sure, but Miller argues that this associative approach is the most viable way to get regular people to stop using common words as their most important passwords.
“Password tools out there are tools made by geeks, and marketed through … the geek press to geeks, whereas it is real people who need this stuff even more than geeks,” he says. “I’m trying to humanize the interface and help the people who are most resistant to using strong passwords.”
App users can expect a PasswordGear browser version in the months ahead. The web tool will be capable of integrating with corporate systems and will include even more memory tools.
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