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New password? sur**nder

This editorial appeared on Bloomberg View on Wednesday:

Have you changed your passwords since the security flaw known as Heartbleed emerged? Did you use a unique one for every site – every bank account, every e- mail address, every music-streaming service, every social media profile and so on?

Congratulations! Your information still isn’t safe. That’s because passwords, by themselves, can’t make it safe. Every company is vulnerable to digital intrusions. By one estimate, 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies have been hacked. And stolen passwords are usually the way in.

True, people tend to use dopey passwords (the most popular password of 2013 was “123456”). But hackers can now overcome even “strong” passwords.

Is there a better approach? The short answer is no. The slightly less short answer is not yet.

Although security technology is growing more sophisticated, it’s still flawed. Two-step verification is an improvement. But it’s also vulnerable to hacking.

Then there’s a growing assortment of biometric devices: iris scanners, fingerprint detectors, palm-print readers, heartwave sensors and more.

But all these approaches will require some familiar trade-offs: the more secure, the less convenient; the better the protection, the more privacy you relinquish.

Biometrics also present new risks all their own, starting with a false sense of security.

And any biometric data that are stored in the cloud, or on a company’s servers, are as vulnerable to hacking as passwords are.

So there is no one solution to online security, in other words, and there may never be.

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