Monday, October 10, 2011

924 Password Evolution

924 Password Evolution

Who can remember all those passwords?  And especially now, in the golden age of hacking and cracking?  It used to be simple.

At the AP, we didn’t use passwords.  We just turned on the computer, read, wrote and edited.

At CBS:  Cooper comes over and says “you need a computer login and a password.”  This was maybe 1984 or 85.  Okay.  Username: Richards.  Password: “eadgbe.”

“Why that?” he asks.  It’s the standard tuning for a guitar.  “How do you expect me to remember that?” he asks.   “I don’t.  Isn’t that the whole idea?”

Today, a password like that is too short and too simple.  Nowadays, you need seven or eight characters, at least one of which has to be an upper case letter and at least one of which needs to be a number or a symbol.

“Eadgbe” would now have to be “eaDgb1e.”  What’s next?  Probably something longer and more complicated.  And don’t forget, you should change the word every month or so.

So what do people do?  They write the new password down on a Post It note and stick it in a drawer, which they usually leave unlocked.  Prying eyes abound.  So if the new password is eaDgb7865#e, it may be less secure than plain old eadgbe.

Memory lapse sends you to the automated IT department which asks you in which city your mother was born because that’s your “reminder question.”  Then you have to remember “did I say ‘New York’ or ‘New York City?’  And are the first letters of each word upper case, or doesn’t it matter.”

Who was your sixth grade teacher?  Answer Ms. Ascerno because you don’t remember if she was “Miss” or “Mrs.” That doesn’t wash.  You HAVE to remember.

What date is your wedding anniversary?  Maybe you even know that.  But do you know what form you used for typing in your original answer?  Was it 02/15/00?  or was it 2/15/2000 or some other variation.

Call I.T. instead of using the automated system and by the time you finish with them, you wish you could find a way to improve your own hacking skills.


--What a pleasure it is, telling dozens of e-mail lists to “unsubscribe.” No more Daily Beast, Newsweek, Nation of Change, Verizon, Jewelry TV, HSN, Liquidation Channel, Macy’s, Zappos, Deering Banjo, Elderly Instruments, The Nation, Mother Jones, Barack Obama, Amazon, Kohl’s, AFTRA, NABET, WGA, AFL-CIO, CWA, UNESCO, Project Hope, Comcast, Newsday,  Optimum. A great sense of relief and a big time-saver.

--Greenspan should keep his mouth shut even when he’s right.  The former Fed Chairman says the Bush tax cuts should expire.  But he’s held in such low regard these days that his position will only strengthen the resolve of those working to keep the cuts.

--You really want to know what’s going on in corporate America, get hold of and reed some recent employee handbooks.  You’ll find a prefab anti-union diatribe in many.  Preemptive strikes are the new propaganda weapon.

--RIP, Roger Williams, who turned schmaltzy piano playing into a national musical obsession with hits like “Autumn Leaves,” “Born Free” and 100 chart-reaching albums.  Williams’ real name was Louis Weertz.  He was 87.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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