It’s hard to instill the importance of using a multitude of passwords across services, especially when it’s tough to remember, just how many times did I use that old go-to password, anyway?
The Password Reuse Visualizer by Paul Sawaya isn’t an art project or artist’s rendering. It’s a free Firefox add-on that you can download to view the relationships of your own Firefox-saved passwords. And it’s extraordinarily effective at cutting through any personal denial that you may have about your own password diligence. Each password you have is rendered with a single green dot. The sites that share each password are attached as blue dots. And passwords that share similarity (say, you used ‘car’ and ‘cars123’) are linked through orange node squares.
For me (and the art used from this piece was generated from my own bad habits), that means one of my old, most-used passwords sprouted like a dandelion blooming with seeds. If any person or bot discovered that one password, it could instantly ping all of those attached blue dots (Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail) to gain access to those accounts. Meanwhile, my other, one-off passwords float around the dandelion like assembled tinker toys, detached from my main password’s liabilities. They enjoy their island lifestyle drinking mai tais with no concerns of attack from robo pirates.
I’ve since cleaned up my act, enlisting LastPass to generate unique passwords (and get to the root of that password dandelion), offloading my password memory and ingenuity for the auto-calculated security of a subscription service. But had I seen this visualizer earlier, I’d have done changed my habits quicker. Maybe it’s time that such a visualizer comes standard with every browser, or at least, for everyone Firefox spots who’s still using "password" as their password.