April 26, 2012

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I was just denied access to my home file-sharing network because I couldn’t remember my password. This skeleton key access to my music, photos and files is the only roadblock keeping me from enjoying them across my very own wireless network—which is already password protected. What the hell?

I hate passwords. They suck. What unencrypted information on my home file-sharing network is so damn important that my laptop needs top-level clearance to access my computer in the next room? Nothing.

Besides, passwords are not in fact the iron shield of security that keeps people from accessing your personal information. Those serious enough to steal your valuable data and digits have ways of doing so that can reduce mere passwords down to the equivalent using a wet paper bag for a condom. Passwords are simply an annoyance created by Trekkie computer nerds who all think somebody or something is out to get them.

I can see those bitter, sexually frustrated geeks at work now. “Let’s make them enter every other letter as a cap and include at least three non-sequential numbers and maybe a symbol—that way they’ll never get laid, I mean, in.”

The main problem with passwords is that not all secure applications allow the same configuration of letters, words and/or numbers so you can’t use the same password for every single one of them like a normal person.

I have two passwords. One is for stuff that I don’t care about people gaining access to—like my home file-sharing network which is already password protected by my secure wireless network, so why does it even need one? And then I have a super-secret-squirrel password for financial accounts that is known only by me and has never been uttered aloud, ever. When a number is required for either, like all Americans, I use a 1 at the end.   

Some sites and applications make you change your password every so often to keep identity bandits on their toes. This is where the real confusion starts. Because, like a normal person, I simply change one aspect of the previous password or reverse it or create something that I truly believe will be intuitive when I return and remember that the password has been changed. “Oh, surely I just added a 1 at the end.” No. There’s nothing intuitive about repurposing a once common password. It never works and even has the power to force the most sane of individuals to make that split-second decision between throwing their computer out the window and saving it for one more “forgot my password” attempt.

As soon as you enter the world of “forgot my password” security questions you’ve admitted defeat, for that is the time when your wits about working the puzzle of passwords is reduced to simply recalling your first pet’s name. It’s like being held back in the fourth grade … twice.

Maybe passwords should be as simple as “first pet’s name” or “street where you grew up” or “high school mascot.” Turn the security question answer into the password. That would really throw the thieves off. It’s one thing to figure out what a person might be using these days based on their career, interests or children’s names. But to make someone guess a bit of your history that even your closest friends might not know—now that is secure.

Some of my closest friends—especially the ones who’ve provided tech support over the years—know my most common password by heart. And because they’re good, trusted friends, I don’t mind them knowing it. However, there are a few others who may or may not remember it that I sometimes worry about.


April 26, 2012

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