Monday, November 03, 2014


We all know that the Internet is a wild and wooly place, full of morons who think it's great fun to screw with your data, criminals who want to steal your identity, and spies who work very hard to steal trade and national secrets stored online. How do we protect ourselves?

One way is with the good old, trusty, password. You know: that combination of letters, numbers, and "special characters" that is supposed to keep the bad guys out. If you're lucky.

But let's face it: passwords are a pain in the neck. Ones that are easy to for you to remember are also easy for the virtual douchebags to guess, and ones that are complex and difficult for bad guys to figure out are also impossible for you to remember. And you have to have dozens of them, because the security experts tell you that you should never use the same password for more than one network or website, because if it's compromised it will give the slimeballs access to lots of things you'd rather protect.

At work, I have accounts on five ... five ... different networks. Each network requires a different login and password for access, and once I'm on a given network, most of the websites I need to visit have their own logins and passwords.

And the rules for generating passwords are different on each network and for each website. Some require as few as six characters (upper or lower case letters, numbers, or "special characters"), and some 15 or more. Some will reject a password that contains a word found in the dictionary, or more than three of any sort of character in a row, or a password that duplicates any of your last 25. Some require certain numbers or combinations of characters at certain points within the password (such as two "special characters" within the first five places).

It's enough to drive you crazy. Of course, in my case it's only a short putt, but that's not important now.

Here's a typical set of password generation rules:

"All passwords must contain a minimum of 137 characters and contain at least 28 lower-case letters, 29 upper-case letters, 11 digits (no two the same), 3 special characters, 5 punctuation symbols, 2 Cyrillic characters, four Egyptian hieroglyphs (not including the left-facing hawk or the Eye of Horus, which are reserved), 14 wingdings, 13 hexagons**, 11 imaginary numbers, 18 consonants, 7 dipthongs*, 12 Latin adjectives, 8 Sanskrit nouns, 4 subjunctives, a dangling participle, and the Batman symbol. Your password must not be evenly divisible by 2 or H. Upper and lower case letters must appear in groups of three and be separated by at least three prime numbers or Chinese pictograms. You may not reuse any of your previous 596 passwords, your new password may not contain any words in Old Church Slavonic or High Valyrian, and will be valid for no longer than 30 days. We will begin reminding you to change it three days from now."

And people wonder why my hair is gray and I drool a lot.

I remember the good old days, when "Password" was a fun television game show ...

... and not a way to drive you crazy ...

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow ... if I can remember my Blogger desktop password.


* In this instance, "hexagon" does not refer to the outcome of a successful exorcism.

** No, this does not refer to extremely revealing bathing suits.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Bilbo, I share your annoyance with the annoyance of passwords! And, to make it worse, some sites require a password change periodically. And no fair simply adding a digit or some other minor change!

Duckbutt said...

I am also bothered by the number of passwords I have to recall.

Linda Kay said...

I read something recently with advice on how often to change passwords, banks at a shorter time than random sites. It's hard enough to keep the passwords straight without also having to remember when you need to change them. I can imagine that a government position would be crazy over passwords, but your instructions might be just a little bit over the top.

Mike said...

Social sites won't start doing the hard password requirements because they would lose 95% of their users.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Ah, that was my all time favorite game show....and I still watch it.
For a gal who talks like a sailor that probably surprises you. :-)

Bilbo said...

Peggy, I don't think there is much about you that would surprise me! I can just imagine some of the clues you might have used playing "Password."

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Great pun, Bilbo. well played, Sir!