Are Passwords Greener?

As I was looking at my little pile of hardware authentication tokens (e.g., SecurID fobs), many of which are no longer usable, it occurred to me that these are not “green” devices. They have plastic cases, and displays run by batteries, and some circuitry. Should they be recycled or can they just be thrown into the garbage? The issuers often don’t want you to return no-longer-active tokens, because it’s easier just to disable your access centrally and not worry about shipping them. I then started thinking about the environmental impact of issuing hundreds of millions of these little devices to everyone with an on-line bank or brokerage account. Imagine the mountain that they would form.

One Comment

  1. Richard Mar 9, 2009 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I would suggest two things in response to your comments on OTP.

    Firstly, the bingo style cards that you speak of are actually less secure than even passwords, as they operate within a much smaller set of finite values. Not to mention that a simple phishing attack would reveal the entire card for future use by any fraudster.

    Secondly, newer, greener technologies such as OTP’s generated by software applications on mobile phones and invisible user authentication based on things like device profiling, geo-location, authentication velocity etc. are becoming more popular.

    I do agree that greener alternatives need to be considered however I do not believe that bingo cards are the answer.

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