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Answer Week: Day 1

29 April 2008

Split Sister asked, When was the last time you changed all your passwords?

To which I answer: I change all passwords on an alternate-day schedule. It takes about 37 minutes (I’ve counted) to do it all. I use a randomizer to get me a series of numbers, and a separate one to give me a few capital and lower-case letters. I mix it up together, until it is pleasing to the eye. I keep the current list of passwords in a self-destruct file, which no one but me can access. (Hackers, you have been warned!)

But I have a friend who isn’t so anal about it all. Over a couple of beers, she’s bemoaned the fact to me that she had come up with a wonderful password, one she was proud of, and she had used it for a select few important sites. Her hubris prompted her to tell her lovely spouse about this great password. Unfortunately, he thought it was as cool as she did, and he started using it, too. (Woe to hubris. Woe! Woe!)

Her consternation (wait, why are you using my cool password, it won’t be secure anymore!) was great. She created another password; cool but not teh cool, since that can only happen once in a lifetime, and hers was now street currency, as far as passwords are concerned. He got hold of that second one, too.

She then moved on to a new method: Take a sentence you will remember, then use only the first letter of each word, including a couple of numbers, as you see fit. (OK, I’m sure her spouse, if he was reading here, would argue that he had that idea way back in grad school*, but, whatev’ — in our story, we’ll call it her Next Big Thing.) That has been useful for her. She keeps the same password for all her, ahem, slogging sites. (So she doesn’t waste more time than she already does on the Internet.)

That family uses the same administrator password for all computers. Can you imagine a different one for each piece of electronic equipment? Good lord. (I know, she’s a silly friend, and she’s really slacking off in the password department, but sometimes, a friend must simply frown in sympathy, say “hmmmm”, and order another round.)

Hmmmmm. Pass me the Guinness.

*He’ll also remind her of the day he brought her, his new wedded wife, to the computer center and said, “and the password is [type] [type] [type] [type]” and she said, out loud, “The password is NEBU?” To which he responded by swishing his hands in the typical CANCEL sign, and hissed “DONT SAY IT OUT LOUD!!” with a look of fear on his face. And his newly beloved looked around at all the undergrads clacking away at the Mac lab surrounding them, and had herself a fun little belly laugh. Mostly because of the look on his face.

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