Sheltered Islander

Sheltered Islander: Password Please

The Middle East is falling apart. Putin is trying to re-establish the Soviet Union. I don’t know what’s going on with Obamacare. And now I have to worry about hackers cracking my passwords.

Hackers are going on the list of people I dislike, right after people who pause at the bank drive-through to fill out their deposit slips instead of doing it ahead of time. In the early days of home computers, we only had to remember the passwords for our AOL account and later our Yahoo account. Websites were read only, nothing to sign into. The next thing that needed a password was eBay. It was safe to use the same password for everything. And ah, those were the good old days…

Then the web exploded, and suddenly you were signing in for everything. Warnings abounded not to use one password for everything. So you created two variations of your first password.

But then the Wicked Witch of the Internet decided you now have to answer security questions. And you have to remember if you capitalized anything. So you start writing down passwords and security answers on scrap paper next to the computer, or type it onto a sticky note on the computer. I was willing to put up with this, but then it went further. Next, they started demanding that we change our passwords as often as they think they can ask without inciting rebellion. And they have the audacity to argue with you. “Please include one upper-case later.” “Please include at least one number.” “Please include the square root of your mother’s age.”

Now you really had to write down all your passwords. If you lost them, they would tear you—I mean, force you—to create a new one. “Forgot your password (you idiot)? Click here and we will send a link to your email (assuming it IS your email). Click the link to set a new password”.

You used to be able to retrieve a password you forgot, but now if you forget, they run you through new password routines. And you have to remember to cross out your old password on the scrap paper and write in the new one. To add insult to insult, they rate your password strength. “Weak,” i.e. my dog could crack this code. “Poor,” i.e. my five-year-old could crack it. “Medium,” i.e. at least it would take a junior staffer to hack this password. “Good,” i.e. you used the first 20 digits of the speed of light, congratulations. “Excellent,” i.e. thought you were smart to come up with this elaborate password, eh? We bet you’ll only use it once before you forget it, you dummy.

I don’t care what they think of my password strength. Who are these password gods, anyway? The only thing they can do next is refuse to let us choose our own passwords. They may program the keyboard to give us electric shocks if we use a weak password.

“What happened to Phil?”

“His keyboard electrocuted him. He tried to use his birthday for a password.”

“No!”

“I know. Smart guy like Phil, you’d think he’d know. ‘Use the weight of a watermelon on the moon,’ I told him, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“Should we bury him with his mouse?”

“It’s only right. He’s had that mouse forever. Besides, who’d want it? It’s got all that dirt on it from his fingers.”

Despite it all, I’m photoshopping my head onto some Playboy models just in case I get hacked. I wanna look good.

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