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Innovation

Why password security may be a really good joke

Is nagging and scaring the best way to get people to treat their passwords with care? Perhaps not.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer on
Man holding his phone looking at woman who is looking out of car window.

We all need a supervisor.

1Password/Screenshot by Min Shin/ZDNET

I'd ask you how you manage your passwords, but it feels like an excessively personal question.

I've heard so many different ways that people choose -- or don't -- to keep their passwords secure.

One friend, for example, uses the same password for everything and claims they've never had a problem. (I know, I know.)

Another keeps a list of silly phrases and changes all their passwords every two months.

What about password managers? Do they really work? Are they just as insecure as everything else on the web? And isn't this all a lot of fearmongering to get you to trust another online service?

Also: The 6 best password managers

Now along comes password manager 1Password to offer a different perspective.

It's hired the always-straight face of Ryan Reynolds to explain what 1Password truly means for you. And what it means is laughing a lot.

Here, we have Reynolds describing how he always has someone on set to prompt him when he forgets his lines. So now he's hired a so-called password supervisor.

What's one of those? Well, it's a slightly bored woman who goes everywhere with Reynolds (I think) and prompts him whenever he needs a password.

Naturally, all his passwords are funny.

His streaming password? Private Ryan. His email password? Replyin Ryan (No g). Health care password? Not Dyin Ryan (No g).

What's lovely about this is that, I suspect, a lot of people use related passwords for different sites. They choose to remember the different element and associate it with a particular site.

Also: How to protect and secure your password manager

You'll be stunned into a peculiar stupor to hear that Reynolds' password supervisor is merely acting. She pretends he has funny passwords, but all she's really done is slipped 1Password onto his phone.

What a job. I hope he pays her very handsomely.

The point, though, is beautifully executed. The simplicity of the ad suggests the simplicity of the product. 

But is it any good? Well, my colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who knows about these things, described 1Password in his review as "pretty close to perfect."

For me, trying to sell security without resorting to fear is a rare feat, one that this ad performs beautifully.

I wonder if we can ever get to the stage where we can laugh at how insecure the web really is.

Probably not.

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