Thursday, September 20, 2012

Passwords Ad Nausuem

by Pa Rock
Who Has No Secrets

Remember when Password was a TV gameshow?  Over the past few years the word has slipped from being representative of something fun into something excruciatingly demonic.

Let me begin by saying this about passwords:  I don't like them.  My life is an open book, I have no secrets, nor do I have access to any secrets through my job, and passwords have become much more than just an annoyance - they now represent the single most frustrating aspect of modern technology.   They are vile, they are evil, and they interfere with the free flow of communication.  And any person or entity who wants in your business will get in your business - password or not!

The young man at the Apple Store last week seemed a bit exasperated when I told him that I didn't have a password for getting into my computer - nor did I want one.  Then when he got ready to help me download an app, and I couldn't remember my all-mighty, grand, high Apple password, he got really frustrated.  He offered to help me change it, and I explained in the King's English that I didn't want a password.  I got one anyway - that's just the way Apple rolls!

Some agencies of the government with which I am way too familiar require long passwords - often up to fifteen characters with upper and lower cases, numbers, and symbols.  Those passwords have to be changed every 90 days and the employees are not permitted to write them down.   Talk about a recipe for lost productivity as workers sweat over their computers trying to remember the current long string of characters!

Today I heard a piece on National Public Radio (NPR) regarding four-digit pin numbers such as one might use at an ATM.  A researcher had gained access to millions of four-digit pin numbers and studied their frequency.  There are 10,000 number combinations between and including 0000 through 9999.  The researcher said that some number combinations were far more likely to be used than others, and that someone trying to gain access to someone's else's account would try the most common combinations first.  The most common pin number, a number selected for its ease in quick recall, was 1234.  (That's not mine, but it's not far off!)  The least common pin number was 8086?  Of course, after that story aired, 8086 will become far more common.  (American's love being unique to the point where they all start to become the same.  How many babies were named Isabella this year?)

Every business that I deal with on the web wants a password.  Every gadget that I operate wants a password.    How long before knocking on the neighbor's door will require a password?  This year the Republicans tried to keep poor people from voting by requiring picture i.d.'s.  Want to bet that in four years they will also be cranking out voter password laws?

A password for this, a password for that.  Allen Ludden would be mortified!

My spleen is sufficiently vented.  Now I will post this angry rant - if I can remember my password!

1 comment:

Don said...

Right with ya, Rock. Most of the passwords I'm asked for these days require a capital letter, a number and other assorted craziness. My computer, however, is way ahead of the game. It often offers to remember all my passwords for me -- which makes me wonder why someone wanting my passwords wouldn't just hack into my computer. But what do I know. I'm just an old fart trying to keep up with the future!

And then there's my doctor. He always wants to know who should have access to my medical records. He has yet to understand the answer: "Anyone who wants it." "That's just not safe," he sometimes replies.

Paranoia seems to rule