Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What is it with passwords?

In a world seemingly dominated by technology I'm becoming increasingly desparing about passwords.

Every program, from my bank, to my work email, from Facebook, to twitter to Amazon to ebay requires a password to "improve security". Obviously on some of these it makes sense but on many many sites it seems to be just there to cause inconvenience a pointless appendage added to make the site able to lock you out at whim.

When I was a kid I was told I could be anyone I wanted to be. Now they call that identity theft.

It started off easy - I had my bank pin a four character numeric. Change it to your birthday (1403) or something like that. Easy.

Ahh but then you get the door to the office - five numbers and a character followed by #

Then add in Eli's daycare centre who have recently added a keycode to their front door - four more numbers (decided by someone else so you can't change them)

Then your work email password - which changes every month (for added security of course)

Chuck in your online bank and another couple of systems I use regularly at work all of them changing with unnerving frequency.

Over the last couple of years this has been complicated even further. For anyone who cares I used to use the same password for as many of the systems as I could - a short five character code which included a number.

Only now the damn thing has become even more complex. Many passwords now have to be 6 characters or more and include a symbol and an numeric character. Of course you can't have characters than follow on from each other (like abc) or more than 4 numbers. What are these jokers on!

Ok so I go for 7revor! or something like that but then I forget whether it's upper or lower case (which has of course become more and more significant) and then when I'm logged out my secret question asks me what is the name of my favourite vegetable? - I've always liked carrots but then green beans are nice too - I can't remember what I entered when I filled that out in 2005 and thinking about it potatoes are pretty good too, but then of course you're only going to give me two attempts anyway before you lock me out so I've got no chance.

And then the captcha figures that you invariable need to enter a clever 'geeky' word which is mixed up in case some secret automated Chinese system is waiting on tenterhooks to hack into my personal email and see what spam and other pointless emails I've been receiving.

I've now been given password keys which I have to carry round (for my bank) and something like a calculator for another system which I can press and magically another random password appears which I can then use with the memorable password I have already entered (which is "gh25"{fasdthjk52") if you want to know.

It all ends up with you scrawling the passwords down on a post-it note - or in a file on your computer (cleverly disgused by the name passwords.doc) so I can keep up. Surely all of this was a lot simpler when we just had a box with a key.

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