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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dante's Password Inferno

It seems like only yesterday I had one password to remember-- my ATM pin.

I was clever with it.

It was 5674.  It spells Lori.  For obvious reasons, I no longer use it (so don't get any ideas).

Then came my first email address and log in.  It was 1989.  I knew exactly 1 person who had email.  Tory and I would send witty things like "Hey, isn't this cool?" every 60-90 days.  I had my log in and password written in the front cover of my day planner.

Since I worked in HR originally, I put a password on my Windows-- which confounded many.  I think it was probably PASSWORD.

Just yesterday I was trying to remember the password to my secondary laptop's desktop encryption.  (FYI from this point on, I will not be sharing any of my passwords, although some are so ingenious that I often forget them.)

My typical day involves the following passwords:

Personal e-mail
Facebook
Blogspot
Desktop encryption
Windows
CISCO VPN Security
Intranet work website
Work email
Weight Watchers
Blackberry password

Then on a regular basis:
Personal bank
Cornell (I volunteer with admissions)
Business bank
Personal bank ATM
Brokerage account
Payroll
Old DOS system at work

Then on a semi-regular, say quarterly basis, I access these websites
NV Business Tax
Sewer fee
Trash fee
Car payment (I hate to even write that....  I hate car payments....)
Cell phone
Business credit card
Continuing Education(3 different sites)
Long term care proposal system
Retirement plan
HRIS for payroll deductions
Amazon
Kodakgallery


Then on a not often enough so now the following accounts are locked out:
Too many to remember-- LLBean, Target, Williams-Sonoma, Savings bonds, college funds, doctor's office Med Something or Other, 10,000 different photo sites to view my friends pictures, etc, etc, etc


That's nearly 40 passwords- not counting the log-in "account names".  All special and unique in their own way. 

No kidding.

Some can only be 8 characters.
Some must be more than 8 characters.
Some must have a number and non-alpha-numeric symbol.
Some cannot have a non-alpha-numeric symbol.
Some must include capitalization.
Some are not cap-sensitive.
Some expire every 90 days.
Some never expire.
Some only expire if you haven't used them.
Some will let you simply change a number  PASSWORD1...PASSWORD22
Some will not allow you to reuse any of the symbols, letters or numbers that you've used previously.

That last one sets me off the most....

First, let me state that I am completely out of ideas for passwords.  If I get too creative, there is no chance that I will EVER be able to remember it.  Hence the many accounts of which I am locked out.  I also don't want to write them all down and put them in a file.  Defeats the purpose of the password.  Even if I label the file "Dog Vaccinations" rather than "Passwords."

I very honestly had to come up with a password with the following criteria:
  • It had to be 8 letters exactly.
  • I had to have at least 1 capital letter, 1 number and 1 non-alphanumeric character.
    It could not resemble ANY of the passwords I used in the past.
  • I would need to reset it, with the same parameters, in 90 days.

I appreciate companies concerns for my security, but let's face it, with all the recent "We've had a breach in security" letters I've received in the past 2 years, I personally think it's just one more hurdle added to my busy day. 

When people comment on how stressed everyone is today, I blame the insane amount of useless information that I am required to retain.  Like 40 passwords.  And that doesn't even count my friends' countless home phones, cell phones, work emails, personal emails....

Remember when there was 1 way to reach someone? 

I love technology.  Lately, it feels like more of a burden, however.  It seems like no matter I do, how unique I am with my passwords, someone will hack the account or some idiot employee will sell my info to the highest bidder.

It leaves me unprotected and exasperated as I am constantly locking out accounts, being left on hold to unlock them or anxiously awaiting the secret coded email (which seems to take hours to come) to unlock my ability to buy a toy for a friend's kid that I barely know.

I feel like it's out of control.

And to that I say...

BuLL5h!t










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