Wednesday, July 9, 2014
The Password Game
I truly despise hackers and cyber-thieves. I know from personal experience what happens when someone steals your identity. Our phone number got very popular with financial institutions a few years ago. Both Banko del Blanco Cheque in Albuquerque and Yallur-Kiddenme Loans in Georgia wanted to confirm my application for credit cards. Wurry and Lyttle Trust in Tennessee wanted to ask about a cash loan application. Hanover/deCache Loans in South Carolina needed more information about the car I would be financing through them. Gonfer-Goode Credit Union wanted to know when I would start paying back the $3,000 line of credit loan I had taken out.
It’s not just that hackers and cyber-thieves will wreak havoc on your life, or steal in your name until your credit card balance resembles the national debt. No, their nefarious doings result in something even worse: the need for passwords.
The several months it took to iron out the stolen identity thing provided ample opportunity to speak with numerous cyber-security experts and learn a thing, or two.
“Let me get this straight: your ultimate firewall to prevent access to your password was your mother’s maiden name?”
“Her real maiden name? You know how easy that is to find? Wise up, dude.”
Sorry, Mom, but I had to change your maiden name to Bphlutznik.
Of course, something as simple and easy to remember as your date of birth, no matter how you mix up the numbers, is a definite no-no in the password world. Every security expert in the world has “no birth dates” as their mantra. (I wonder if hackers have finally given up weaseling in that way, and since nobody uses dates of birth anymore, if using my date of birth would be safe. You probably have, too. If you give it a try, let me know how it works out.) In lieu of the easy way the experts offer great advice to building safe passwords.
“Your password has to be something totally unrelated to anything. It needs to be at least eight characters long. Use numbers and letters. Mix them up and use both upper and lower case.”
“So, something like…”
“DON’T TELL ME! Never tell anyone your password.”
“But how will I know if my password is good enough?”
“Simple: if you make lots of new friends at collection agencies, your password was a dud.”
Ultimately, the first rule in making good passwords is they must be so complicated and obscure that nobody will ever be able to figure them out. The second rule regarding good passwords is that you won’t be able to remember them. The third rule of passwords is never write them down. Anywhere. Those web sites, such as Lumosity, that offer mental games to improve brain function and memory have nothing over just trying to keep all the passwords in your life straight. For awhile I tried a little mind strengthening and meditation for half an hour every morning.
“Ommm… what is the password for my savings account? Ommm… what is the password for my Kindle account? Ommm… what is the password for my Gilbert’s Big & Tall Online account? Ommm… what is the password for…”
I couldn’t remember any of them, but I did achieve a higher plane of existence where I came up with a solution to the password problem. I call it the “Forget Password” solution. Whenever I need to log into something I just click on the “Forget password?” button. In nothing flat my password, or the option of creating a new one to forget, is in my mailbox. It works like a charm, but I think my brain is getting a little flabby.