A Simple Look At Passwords



SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


            I have a bad habit of being optimistic about humanity.

            Oh, in theory that’s a good thing. Let’s all think the best of people! Shouldn’t it be that way? Sure it should. Chamberlain thought the best of Hitler. So did Stalin, who was certain Hitler wouldn’t be dumb enough to invade Russia and stick around through winter. Come to think of it, just the word “Hitler” is a good hint that thinking the best of people might be a mistake.

            But this isn’t about mass-killing despots. This is about passwords.

            Hitler would have had a very secure password. He didn’t think the best of people.

            According to researchers, in 2013 internet users finally got smart, and stopped using “password” as their #1 password when dealing with computers and internet sites. Finally, some sanity!

            It dropped to number two.

            Number one is now “123456”. Yeah.

            It would be 12345, but so many sites require six digits.

            Another team of security researchers uncovered a cache of two million login credentials, and according to their research, “password” was far down in fourth position, after, “123456”, “123456789”, and “1234”.

            Next came “12345” and, yes, “12345678”.

            After that, in a sudden desire to be different, came: “admin”.

            And so my optimism is defeated.

            Yahoo Tech … excuse me, Yahoo! Tech points out that you can’t get much worse than “password”. It has no numbers, no capital letters, and no unusual symbols, and can be guessed pretty easily. It reminds me a lot of my first computer password, which if I recall correctly was “Mark”. No, worse: It was “mark”.

            Other popular passwords: “111111”; “abc123”; and “qwerty”, which if you learned touch typing—or just glance at a keyboard—is pretty easy to figure. Also popular: “letmein”, again self-explanatory.

            I apologize if I just gave out your password. However, if your password is any of the above for any gadget or site the general internet could get a crack at, you’re a moron. Perhaps your password should be “moron”. Perhaps it is.

            Here are other common passwords identified by Yahoo! (doesn’t that make you think you’re one of the Howling Commandoes? Say it out loud): “princess”, “Monkey”, “Sunshine”, “Shadow”, and “iloveyou”, the latter of which is possibly involved in a gifted device, or someone who really, really can’t live without electronics.

            All you hear about these days is this bad guy cracking a password, that bad guy stealing data, some other bad guy putting malware on your computer …  Malware is another word for software that sneaks into your computer and kicks your own software into a corner of the hard drive. Do hard drives have corners? But if you haven’t educated yourself enough to know what malware is, the case could be made that you shouldn’t be in the position of passwording anything.

            Is passwording a word? It is now.

            For the record, the best passwords are 10 characters long, use uncommon letter/number combinations, and employ punctuation or odd symbols, so someone can’t just guess it and hacking programs can’t easily figure it out. For instance, my password is My9@s3W0Rp.

            Or, um, … it was. Yeah, it was.

            However, I used that password for everything. The experts say you should have a different password for each online service; that way if a bad guy gets one, he won’t get all of them.

            And you should never write them down. Nope.

            Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Are you nuts?!”

            Well, I still think more people are good than bad, so … yeah, I’m probably nuts. But if you’re talking about passwords, then I’ll give you an idea that, I assume, the experts will wildly disagree with:

            Write ‘em down.

            I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can barely remember … well, there was something, I don’t recall what it was, but I can barely remember it. How can I be guaranteed to remember even one password, let alone several? I can’t, that’s how.

            I’m talking about home use. I’m not suggesting you tape it to your iPad, or have it tattooed to your forehead. (Although if you do that, remember to have it tattooed backward.) But yeah, if you have a password so convoluted that the Navajo Code Breakers couldn’t figure it out, you’re going to be in trouble if you keep forgetting it. Put it in invisible ink, on a piece of paper at the back of a desk drawer. Train the dog to dig it up from the back yard. Put one number or digit in the corner of each room of the house.

            Sure, you could lose it if your house burns down, but won’t you have bigger problems then? And if the place gets burglarized, just change your password. That’s assuming the burglar is no longer there—first thing’s first.

            The average hacker is not going to physically walk into your house, unless you’re talking about a relative with bronchitis. That’s not the kind of virus we’re dealing with, here.

            Then you can put in nice, complicated passwords that aren’t likely to be stolen, such as 3vcl943(#^&%/2id[aude8/1, which is what I typed when I hacked just now.

            Here’s another idea, which I got from a website where someone suggested typing your name one handed, without looking at the keyboard. No, I don’t know why. Still, it’s an interesting idea for generating a password. Let’s try it:

            Mdtjhubngtg

            Not bad. Needs some numbers and symbols. Maybe I’ll try again when I feel a sneeze coming on.

12 comments:

  1. This needs to be stuck on a very large sticky-note above everyone's computer. I have different passwords for everything, although the ones I use the most are fairly easy, like one word. I got so frustrated by Google once that my password became fukit2hell, but I calmed down and changed it after I got the tech to stop laughing. But I have a small "address" book -- yes, the paper kind -- with my passwords under each alphabet tab. I still worry and change them a lot, which means it's getting hard to read the current one under the scratchouts. I guess it's about time to pull it out from under my copy of "500 English Verbs" (catch my grandkids finding it there!) and try to find a new one. Have you tried finding an actual paper address book lately? B&N wants $15! Apparently it's become a 'boutique' item. Meh.

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    1. Boutique! Well, you can get a notebook for 79 cents, so ...

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  2. I use different passwords for everything, and periodically change them.

    The password for the mayor of Toronto these days would be FordMoreYears, TastyVodka, or Crackface.

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    1. Actually, it probably IS FordMoreYears.

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  3. After being cloned on PayPal a few years ago I make up the most ridiculous passwords and change them on a irregular basis. The only problem with that is remembering where the new list is and throwing away the old, without accidentally throwing away the new.
    R

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    1. The bad guys make things as hard as they can for us, don't they?

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  4. My passwords are written down. That's because if something happens to me, my daughter will need to close down my accounts. I've seen too many friend's accounts of Facebook that are no longer living. It is weird. No, I've never used any of the above passwords. I detest them, but realize why they are necessary and why they are futile. I worked with people that really, really knew computers.

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    1. It's sad when you work with someone who really *doesn't* know computers.

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  5. omg! the most popular password used to be 'password'? hahahahahaha followed by '123456'? That's even funnier. Mine are quite complicated. Fits my nature but then I don't trust people. I also don't carry pics of my family in my wallet.
    As for remembering, I won't keep the list on my computer. Nope. They're in an address book, coded of course.

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    Replies
    1. You're way more paranoid than I am. Or is the word 'smart'?

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