Sunday, June 29, 2008

Password Paranoia


Of all the things the Internet has wrought, the obsession with passwords is one of the most interesting. Not that passwords haven't been used and abused down through all the ages of mankind's natural inclination for privacy and/or exclusivity. Spies use them. Secret societies use them. During prohibition, all those lovely dens of iniquity used them. And who can forget the hapless soul who didn't have the password that would allow him to go through the Green Door in that catchy fifties tune?

Nor can I forget a childhood project wherein a group of us, having fallen heir to assorted cardboard boxes and scrap lumber, spent all morning cobbling together a most excellent clubhouse. We were hot and grubby and, as the building efforts drew to a satisfactory conclusion, I was sent back to the kitchen for food and drink. As the littlest, it was a given that I got the KP detail.

So I made a successful raid, scoring a couple of tubes of Ritz crackers and a lidded plastic pitcher of Koolaid and started back. Halfway there, I realized I'd forgotten paper cups. Back to the kitchen I went and then started once more for the clubhouse, now struggling with all the assorted elements of my plunder, sweaty and hungry and thirsty. I stood at the door of the clubhouse yelling, "Let me in!"

And my evil companions demanded, "What's the password?"

Fortunately, in that world, she who had control of the plunder didn't need a steenkin' password. Such is not true now. The longer we're on the Internet, the more passwords we need. Adding insult to injury, many of those password protected doors require you to regularly change the darned things. Security purposes, don'cha know? I now have more passwords than Carter has liver pills, to borrow a phrase from my checkered past. It is not surprising, therefore, that an occasional password glitch burps up from the tangled web, as it recently did for me.

I have mentioned the sudden dearth of notices when folks leave comments here. I also began to realize there were other email missives that normally come in on a regular basis and they were also AWOL. What was going on?

Today enlightenment struck. A couple of weeks ago my ISP nagged me to change my password. So I did. And I forgot completely that I needed to edit that change into my email clients because, without that little detail, mail going to the ISP-provided account would not be forwarded to the Gmail account. Awwwk!

Needless to say, once the editing was in place, the problem was solved. I know this because almost before I could blink my eyes, my Gmail inbox was slammed with a backlog of 90-some emails. Guess I've been let into the clubhouse again.

Next time they ask me to change my password, though, I might have to hurt somebody.


Maggie said...

Yeah, I think I will keep leaving you notes here. Yes, I do just what people say not to with the hoards of passwords.

Bonnie said...

Strange this should be the topic. Once again Windows Live sent an email to my alternate box for me to confirm I wanted to change my password. I never try to change a password, or rarely ever anywhere.

So who is trying to get into my email account over there? Had I confirmed I sure wouldn't have gotten in as I wouldn't know what password someone is using.

Maybe I should of been carrying goodies.

Wendy said...

Pesky passwords are tough, but those darned user names are tougher for me, since those are the ones where I tend to get fuddled, especially on sites where there are too many rules about those names. Of course, those seem to be the same sites that offer no help to discover that magic name. Fie on them!

Dee said...

Maggie, I suspect you and I do the same forbidden thing: we keep our user names and passwords in a handy little notebook, written down and vulnerable. Phooie, I say. Without that notebook, I'd be dead in the water should inevitable computer glitches occur.

Bonnie, that verification message from Windows Live does sound suspicious. Were I you, I think I'd email them, asking what's going on.

Wendy, you're right about the user names. Some sites really put you through a lot of hoops before you finally find one not already taken. What you end up with, of course, is usually ridiculous.

Maybe the devil really IS in the details.

John Bailey said...

I thought I'd found the perfect solution in a little piece of (free) software that promised to manage user names and passwords for me, filling in forms and such on need.

I was just about to fire it up and use it for the first time when Graham saved me from my foolishness:

"Don't you know that's the worst bit of spyware ever, ever, ever, you silly old fool?"

So I reverted to my little green notebook, protected only by my awful handwriting... :-)

Dee said...

I'm laughing, John, but Graham is right. Don't you hate that we have to be so wary? I'll tell you what, though -- as much as I love computers and where they can take us, it's wise to keep up one's allegiance with good old-fashioned paper records.

Louise said...

I'm paper's number one fan but pen and paper doesn't always cut it -

I write for one of these little bit of (free) softwares/applications.
Sometimes you just need to see how trustworthy an application is before well...trusting it.And usually the best way to do that is hearing user feedback.


Jo said...

Oy, passwords! The bane of my husband's (Old Guy) existence. He is forever forgetting what password he used for what account. My system is easier. I use three different passwords interchangeably. I knew that I'd get lost in a maze of passwords if I had more and so far, knock on the computer monitor, I haven't gotten into any trouble.

Jo said...

Oh, say, Dee, to change the subject. Have you ever tried butter tarts? They are a Canadian treat and for the first time in 13 years since I married the Old Guy I finally made some. Oh, my. I have found his soft spot.

Dee said...

Louise, good point. And you're right, of course. Trouble is, we don't always have access to feedback, durn it.

Jo, you lil rascal -- I looked under the coffee mugs and everthang but did I see a recipe? Huh? Noooooooo. There you are, tantalizing us again.

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