Monday, November 12, 2007

Passwords - 12th post this month!

I hate passwords. I especially hate to change them. When I worked, we were required to change passwords every 90 days or be locked out of our accounts. They had to be at least 8 characters long and have three out of the following four items:
1. Lower case letters
2. Upper case letters
3. Numbers
4. Symbols (!$%~)*&

Not too difficult, right?

And then they upped the ante.

New passwords had to contain all FOUR of the above categories.

So I did what everyone else did; i wrote it down. And because a co-worker may well need to access files on my computer when I was not there, I had to put the written-down password where it could be found.

Like pasted to the side of the computer on a post-it.

I think that is the real reason that post-its were invented.

Now that I no longer have that cross to bear, I am occasionally prompted at various sites (like the bank) to change passwords, so I have a total of three passwords that mean something to me, so I can remember them. And this means that on any site, I have three tries to get the password, and three passwords which I use, so see how it works out?

And now they're upped the ante.

Now I have to use a new password that HASN'T BEEN USED on that account before.

I've floundered around for months trying to make passwords I can remember. Sometimes I can't even remember them long enough to write them down, so I've learned to write them down FIRST and then use them. And finally I have hit on a theme. No, I won't tell you my theme. But I'll give an example.

Everyone knows you shouldn't use the word "password" or "123456" or the names of your children, and so forth, and anyway, they generally don't have all of the four (or even three) types of characters.

So one theme would be dates. For example, a password I put in today could be "Nov12*007" And everytime I had to change it, I'd use the same format, but pick a different date: not a birthdate, but some date I'd know: my parents' anniversary, the date of the SanFrancisco quake, the date the team won their last game. That's a theme.

Another theme could just be keystrokes. You see how the keys on the four rows of your keyboard line up? So how about a password of xdr54esz? See how those are a pattern?

Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth on passwords.

(But just to be safe, I write it down too.)

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