diamond geezer

 Monday, June 28, 2004

Please enter your password below

I hate passwords. I know we have to have them but they're always so difficult to remember. I can remember a few passwords without any problem, but what I can't always do is remember which password goes with with login. I could write all my passwords down somewhere, but that would be dangerous. I could try using the same password for everything, but that would be even more dangerous. And they don't let you use the same password for everything - some sites are happy with only 4 letters, some require 8 and some demand mixed alphanumeric characters. Usually I rely on my browser remembering all of my passwords for me, which is great until one day I load up a webpage and discover that it's forgotten too. So sometimes I find myself staring at a blank log-in page wondering exactly which email address I used to set up the account and with which password, shut out until I eventually stumble across the correct combination.

People are generally rubbish at selecting passwords. Many choose the default word 'password' as their password, which must be the most hackable way into anyone's bank account. Names are popular too, either one's own or one's partner or one's pet, again eminently guessable (especially by one's partner or one's pet). Favourite football teams, place names, birthdays - all are nice and easy to remember but therefore just that bit too easy to crack. No, what you need is a password that's impossible to deduce, like jaJwutH2fap0w. Perfect, except that it's also nigh impossible to remember. You might want to scribble it on a post-it note and stick it to the front of your computer so that you won't forget it, except that neither will any passing snooper. And do take very special care typing in that long sequence of gibberish because you're only allowed three mistakes before the system locks you out completely.

If you do forget your password you may be asked to answer a secret question in order to proceed. To be honest these worry me even more than passwords. The secret question is generally something like 'What is your mother's maiden name?' which is a really good question because it's not something any online hacker is likely to know. No online hacker except your mother, that is. I do hope your mother hasn't been rifling through your bank account, your blog and that slightly dodgy website you use sometimes that's based in Amsterdam. And I do hope hope you didn't type your password into that box at the top of the post, otherwise it probably wasn't your mother checking out your online affairs, it was me...

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