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In which i discuss passwords

I read an article the other day talking about the need for a “universal password” and I would like to say that I highly agree with this.   Before I explain what a universal password is, let me explain why we need one.  When I was in college a million years ago, I got in trouble for using what they considered an “obvious” password in a computer programming course I was taking.  At the time, they wanted you to use a password that no one would be able to guess.  The only problem with this scenario is that it’s difficult to remember a password that has absolutely nothing to do with you.
 
As I was an honest person (at the time), and I never thought anybody would break into my computer programming account, I used my nickname which was a shortened version of my last name.  Was it obvious?  Yes, but I could remember it and I never thought it would be a problem.  As it turned out, I was wrong and somebody did go into my account and actually copied some of my code.  I tried an innocent plea because it wasn’t my idea for the kid to break into my account but because of my “obvious password” my plea fell on deaf ears.  After having my grade reduced by 100 points, I learned my lesson … sort of.  No more COMPLETELY obvious passwords.
 
Fast forward a billion years to today and I have passwords for everything from Travelocity to YouTube to Facebook to Bank of America.  This blog alone has caused me to create about 10 different accounts with their own passwords.  It is literally impossible to keep track of them all.  So, I decided to break the cardinal rule of passwords which is to keep them all different.  It’s true, for me, one size fits all.  I use the same password for every account.  Or I try.  Here’s the problem.  Sometimes the password must be 6 characters long with a combination of letters and numbers; sometimes it’s 8 characters long with a combination; sometimes you can include symbols or underscores; sometimes you can’t.  So I now have about 3 different variations of my passwords.
 
As a result of this, I have a massive list of my accounts and passwords printed out NEXT TO MY COMPUTER which is against cardinal rule #2:  Don’t ever display your passwords.  But seriously, I’m 51 years old and on a good day I can barely remember my name.  How the hell am I supposed to remember that my Blogger password is different from my Live Journal password?  Or that Time Warner Cable is not the same as Bank of America. I have YouTube, Paypal, Ebay, Twitter, you get my drift.  It’s absolutely impossible and if I’m going to use my memory, perhaps it would be better to remember that I have a kid at home who expects dinner occasionally.
 
So now we get to the “universal password.” There is a movement afoot to help poor, memory stricken people such as myself. People want a constant protocol put in place so that you can come up with a password and then use the same one on all accounts.  For example, if you were CAT1 on one account you wouldn’t have to be CAT111 on the next because they would use the same combination of numbers and letters.  See how easy that is?  It actually makes a great deal of sense which is why it probably won’t come to be.  
 
Now don’t try to break into my account because my password is not CAT1 but I’m just trying to prove a point here.  As society gets more and more interactive and we get more and more accounts to log into, we OLD FOLKS are going to need some help.  So let’s get a universal password going and then I can change all my passwords to one thing and maybe get a little less stress around here.  I know this situation isn’t unique to me as someone brought it up to me last night.  
 
I mean, I’m just saying…

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23 Comments

  1. Abby
    January 6, 2011

    I’ve abandoned most accounts because I forgot their passwords. Seriously, if you ever Googled my full name you might find duplicates of me everywhere.

    …can I have a universal password too?

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      i think we should all have one…my desk looks like some kind of war room at the pentagon with accounts and passwords all around it.

  2. Walker
    January 6, 2011

    I keep a little notebook with all my passwords- I’m guessing I have over 50!!! Yikes. I struggle as you do. I did read a post that suggested one basic password which you would then modify for each site. Your Cat11 would be Cat11fb for Facebook and Cat11tw for twitter, etc. But, again if someone got the cat11 then you’d be toast.

    A related concern is the use of security questions that are ‘obvious’ to people who know you. My son’s ex-girlfriend was able to hack his email and cell phone acct. because she knew enough information- mother’s name, birthplace… etc. Talk about a f#@*ing nightmare. I think my new birthplace is the Land of Oz or something… Mother’s name-Satan…

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      That’s a valid point but it’s just so damn difficult to keep up with them all!!! I have a sheet of passwords and credit card numbers and frequent flyer numbers…makes me feel all CIA like!

      I never pick the easy question like where were you born? The entire thing is nuts…especially if, like me, you have NO MEMORY!!!

  3. Karla Telega
    January 6, 2011

    I try to follow the rules, which means I frequently click on “forgot password” for Amazon, my homeowners association, UPS, and Blue Cross. That’s with a couple of root passwords, and variations to fit the site’s requirements. I think they should give anyone over 50 a free pass.

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      I agree…shouldn’t the sites just know who we are? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

  4. Carla E. Knight
    January 6, 2011

    Just yesterday I was on a site that gave me five options for security questions. I could not answer four of them and the fifth one would have involved finding my driver’s license and entering the last five digits of the number. I hate people who have memorized their driver’s license number! Using option #5 would have meant finding my license again every time I needed to answer the stupid question, so that was unacceptable to me. Finally I just made up an answer to one of the other questions. Am I the only one who doesn’t remember the last name of my first grade teacher (actually I do, but it required a minimum of five letters and her name was Todd), or the name of the street I lived on when I was eight years old (we moved a lot when I was a child)? Passwords? Gimme a break. I’m 62. I’m lucky I remember to get dressed in the morning.

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      Carla! I have my drivers license number memorized because I’ve had the same number since I was 16. Hahaha

      • Carla E. Knight
        January 6, 2011

        Hell, I’m lucky I remember in which state my license was issued. Not really as I’ve been in NC for 30 years, but before that I lived in six states in nine years. Now I’m just too old to cram more useless numbers into a brain too full of other useless numbers.

        • Lynn
          January 6, 2011

          i can see that!

  5. April
    January 6, 2011

    *Right there with you!* I have the memory of a freaking gnat – and yet I’m supposed to remember which website uses what combination of letters / numbers, which ones are case sensitive, which ones want a drop of blood to prove my identity . . .

    Absolutely ridiculous.

    Like you, I’ve gone as universal as I possibly can with my password. I’ve got about 3 different variations and usually end up trying each one on a website before I got the right one.

    Viva le universal password!

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      Hahaha…it seems I’m not alone. Of course, I did write the post because a friend of mine and I were discussing it.

  6. Theresa Sonoda
    January 6, 2011

    Programmer, computer nerd, IT person here. I completely agree with the Universal password. Let’s do this thing. Everything needs a damn password and every password has different criteria, which is bull. I, too, have 3 different variations of a (difficult to hack) password, and one of them usually does the trick. I would expect a universal password, however, to have very strict and lengthy criteria, which might be tedious for us users, but Safety First!

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      if i only had to memorize one crazy password, i’d do it. It’s the millions of them that drive me nuts!

  7. blueviolet
    January 6, 2011

    At least once a day I’m doing a password request for some site or another. It’s ridiculous! A universal pw would be wonderful.

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      it seems we are all in agreement here.

  8. Samantha
    January 6, 2011

    I have three passwords I use commonly, but can never remember which one is for which. Thank g-d for “password retrieval” …

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      I know…I have all sorts of variations but then I can’t remember which goes with which

  9. Renee
    January 6, 2011

    I have special passwords for financials. I have that universal password with minor changes for others. I have lost accounts from before I started that.

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      I have so many accounts, passwords and logins…I would need to be in Mensa to figure it out!

  10. Angel
    January 6, 2011

    My password is a six letter word and a 8 digit number combined – it is a password for everything – including signing onto my laptop.

    So recently I took my laptop over to The Boy’s and he was all, I tried using the password I gave you “Koala” – which is his nickname for me – apparently I am ‘cuddly’. Anyhow, I proceed to put this 14 character password in and my boys jaw drops and eyes wide he says – “well no one’s going to hack that password”

    The upshot of this – The Boy has a Masters in Computer science specialising in … Computer security. I guess if he says my computer is now un-hackable – it’s un-hackable!

    • Lynn
      January 6, 2011

      Sounds like you have it together with the passwords! Excellent!

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