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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Visualize your password reuse

Quick add-on download link:  Firefox

If you're like most browser users, you have an unfortunate tendency to reuse the same password across websites. As we're about to see, I've been plenty guilty of this in 2011. Have you decided on a New Years resolution yet?

It's a hard habit to break, because it's hard to tell where to start. Which passwords are you using the most? Right now, Firefox isn't that much help...

It seems like this data could benefit from better visualization. Inspired by a brilliant add-on called Collusion, I built this:

What you're seeing here is a rendering of my password reuse. The green dots (nodes) represent the passwords I'm using, and each small blue dot represents a site I'm using it on.

Hover over a password and see its visual hash:

Some users like to make many slight variations on the same password. That's fine, but still an example of password reuse. When the visualization detects two similar passwords, it connects them with a square orange node.

You can look at this and pretty quickly figure out where you should start changing your passwords first, and which passwords you should stop reusing. As you change your passwords and update your Firefox password manager, the picture will improve!

This add-on is currently available for Mozilla Firefox. After it's installed, you can access it by clicking on the small blue padlock icon on the add-on bar.

As before, I'd love it if you took a look at the source code, and sent me your thoughts.

Nerd details:
This is a force directed graph built with d3.js and SVG. Password similarity is calculated in terms of edit distance.

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