Am I the only person out there who has a secret list shoved somewhere in their wallet that lists every online account, account name, and its password? I’m like that dog on the TV commercial that keeps fretting and worry all night long about someone taking his dog bone, and he keeps looking for a different spot to hide it.
I’m terrified by the thought of losing my list of passwords. I don’t know what I would do if I ever truly lost the list. Of course, I do have a backup stored on my computer’s desktop. The name of the file? Passwords, of course.
Every time I hear one of these security guys on the Today show, Good Morning America, or 60 Minutes, I start worrying about my computer accounts and my passwords. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just use the same name and password for all these accounts, but “Oh, no,” say the experts. Not only should I be using different passwords for all these accounts, but they say these passwords need to be changed every six months or so.
Worse, the experts tell us to avoid using passwords that might be easy for us to remember, things like birthdates, middle names, addresses, etc. since those easy-to-remember words are exactly what the hackers will try first.
So, here I am at 67-years-old, trying to maintain more than 20 different online accounts, almost all of which have unique account names, addresses, and passwords. I have three different online banking accounts, a stock account, and accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I also have accounts required to check on the weather when I fly and another dedicated account for filing flight plans.
One of the worst accounts—and hardest to maintain—is my special, high-security account with U.S. Customs & TSA. This account requires me to use a password that begins with a single 0-9 digit, contains at least eight letters, and then ends using one of eight grammatical symbols like #,%,&,@, etc. Oh, by the way, if I don’t log into the system at least every six months my password becomes invalid.
Answering the Security Questions
Even when you enter the correct account name and password, some of the more secure sites ask one or more security questions. I’m convinced these questions are designed to plant seeds of doubt in my mind that I might be coming down with Alzheimer’s.
I hate it when one of these accounts says something like, “Before we can grant you access to your account, you will need to answer the following security questions to verify you are who you claim to be.”
Oftentimes it takes me two or three times attempts before I get it right. Of course, those are on my good days. On bad days, I can’t answer the question correctly in the given number of tries and I am simply cut off and denied access.
One of the original security questions I supplied info for was “Where were you born?” Simple question, right? Well, no it isn’t. I was born in Washington DC. Now, the problem is I never seem to recall exactly how I answered that question since there are at least three or four possible answers, depending upon my mood and sanity at the time. Did I use just “D.C.” (with or without periods), District of Columbia, or Washington D.C? Hell, I never remember for sure exactly how I answered this question.
Same thing with my high school. Did I originally enter it with the suffix “Senior High School” or “Senior H.S.” or did I just shorten it completely and answer “Walter Johnson?”
One of the most amazing security questions I’ve run into was recently asked by my bank. I can’t remember ever having provided them with an answer. The security question was, “What is the name of your first girlfriend?” Yes, I am serious. First, I can’t believe I told them that to begin with, and second I can’t remember exactly what I was thinking when I provided an answer. What did they mean by “girlfriend” or “first.” I start sounding like former President Clinton defining the word “sex.”