What's your password(s)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My biggest concern, when moving from elementary school to junior high, back in the "good old days" was my fear of forgetting my locker combination.

"Right 14, Left 7, Right past 7 to 12"

Talk about pressure.

I feared immortal humiliation at the hands of ninth-graders as I stood helplessly in front of my locker, attempting to crack the code so I could gather up my science book and make it to the next class on time.

Today, my concern is the overwhelming of my aged brain with numbers, letters, uppercase, lowercase, more-than-six, less-than-nine passwords.

They're everywhere.

There's a password for my bank account; a password for my email; one for insurance, another for savings. I've got passwords for payroll and passwords for iTunes.

Passwords have become the bane of my existence.

If only we could have a "universal password," much like the universal remote for our televisions.

Instead, every organization, shop, network and account has different password requirements.

I understand the need for Internet security. One bout of a stolen credit card number was enough for me to understand the importance of keeping what's mine - mine.

It's just that, with fresh AARP invitation in hand, I can't remember things like I used to. And, it seems somehow counter-intuitive to write down on a single list, all the different passwords for all the different accounts that are involved in my life.

Computer security folks say you really shouldn't ever write down your passwords. That defeats the purpose of a password, they say. Instead, think of a phrase or snippet of a song with every word's first letter translating to a letter in the password.

Hmmm. No, I can't remember words to songs. My son often accuses me of simply making up nonsense phrases to the music. So, that won't work.

There are Internet-based password storage sites, which experts say are safer than simply a document on your own computer. But, they caution there are imposters out there, posing as secure sites.

There is also the handy "Forget your password?" icons on every secure site.

I have a problem with them for a couple of reasons.

Number one, I fear there is a list somewhere of "remedial computer users," and when my request for a password "do-over" comes into the clearinghouse, all the employees have a good laugh over my chronic memory failure.

I'm also stymied by the security questions.

"Your Hometown."

Do they mean the town I was born in, or the town my parents lived in when I was born?

"Your mother's maiden name."

My mother, or my husband's mother?

"Your high school."

Town or mascot?

We can send folks to the moon and we can come up with the Internet. We can freeze-dry ice cream. Why can't we come up with a single, secure, and universal password system?

Its inventor would win my unending appreciation.

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