Han Dong, Senior Product Marketing Manager, User Authentication
I just read an article in CNET, by Jonathan Eunice, Character limitations in passwords considered harmful. And immediately after reading the story I thought to myself, Jonathan (may I call you Jonathan), we have the answer to your troubles. It's called VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Authentication Service and it's precisely what you need to address your goal to have strong authentication for your "4,000 web services."
Jonathan's article described the issue of how various websites will frequently restrict your ability to create 'stronger' passwords that use symbols (i.e. !@#$%^&), and thus relegate the user to simple (and easy to steal) phrase or nickname passwords. So he is thwarted from his attempt to use a password like "Ga9i)t|Z" by the fact that the website in question, is not allowing the use of these special character passwords. And he's forced to use "easy-to-remember, easy-to-hack passwords." Not an ideal solution.
So here's where VIP comes in. VIP is an easy to implement two-factor authentication service that employs an open standards-based one-time password credential that strengthens your existing userid and password. The VIP Authentication Service provides a cloud-based second-factor authentication, integrated to your favorite web service via Web Services-based API. The VIP credential is available as a small hardware token or can reside as a client application on your mobile phone (always available, regardless of wireless network coverage). This VIP credential generates a 6-digit code (which changes every 30-seconds). The credential is registered with a relying party web service - and every time you initiate a login session to your web service, in addition to entering your easy to remember userid and password, you also enter the 6-digit code from your credential as a "second" password.
Now Jonathan has essentially a password for his password. And better yet, that password for his password is uniquely generated (based on OATH standards) and constantly changing, every 30-seconds. Someone would have to physically steal Jonathan's mobile phone or VIP token IN ADDITION to stealing his userid and password to hack into his favorite websites. Jonathan can combine something he knows (userid & password) with something he has (VIP credential) to add strong password protection. Now he can login, safely and securely.
So Jonathan, feel free to use "goofdog" as your password - just be sure to add VIP Authentication and you're good to go.