Limited Password and General Password on Same Account to Lower Damage

A website can be very powerful. One password accesses all that power. Password compromise is a risk. Even many secure passwords can be cracked. It’s harder, but possible. If someone gets in who shouldn’t, we can’t stop them from using all that power.

Multiple accounts at the same website probably would not be as useful a solution. We probably couldn’t view emails for one account through the other account. Terms of use may not allow multiple accounts; and, if the terms do, the terms might be changed later without advance notice to the user.

For some situations, I’d like to have two passwords, where either one would work. That sounds like a bad idea, because it becomes twice as easy for an attacker to get in. But the second password would only be a limited-purpose password. And, if they’re both strong, breaking in could still be extraordinarily difficult.

Then, I could limit the second password to being used from certain devices or IP addresses, for certain services at the website, during certain days and times, and so on. Then, even if someone cracked the second password and used it without my permission, the limits would reduce the possible damage an unauthorized person could cause.

Suppose I let a limited user access email. I might want to set what a limited password could permit so deleting an email would only move it to a specially-named folder so I could verify its status later. In other words, perhaps nothing could be replied to or permanently deleted and no email settings could be changed under the limited password. Later, using my general password, I could see what damage was attempted, undo it, delete without recovery if I wish, and change settings all I want. Maybe use of a limited password would generate a log that would be visible and deletable only when the general password is used.

Multiple limited passwords, each with its own settings, would be possible. To change the limits, I’d have to use my general password. My general password could also let me disable or change a limited password.

This could be helpful for any website that uses a password. It would be especially helpful for websites with many services or that allow money management or recordkeeping. This could also be a revenue source for a website, for a premium service. Among people who opt for multiple passwords, user satisfaction with overall site experience would likely rise.