Tag Archives: passwords

Open Sesame

I came to work this morning just a teeny bit worried.

I’ve written before about our password regime, and about how your log-in password has to change every 42 days, must have some capitals, some lower-case, some numbers, etc., and mustn’t be similar to any of your ten previous passwords (At the time I wrote that I’d changed mine to Jomwalaughyk8#, and I do still use this for one program).

My password expired last Friday, so I picked a new one. This was rejected as too similar to a previous one by the system which, having a larger memory than I have, can remember everything I’ve done in the last 420 days. My second attempt was rejected for similar reasons, so I irritatedly picked a third.

And this morning I couldn’t remember it. No big deal, you might think, but what I could remember was that it revealed plainly what I thought of the whole thing. In other words it was “Wasteoftime1”, or “Timewaste1”, or “Loadofcrap1”, “Givemeabreak1” or something like that (by typing all those suggestions here I have just forgotten it again). I would be allowed three attempts to get it right before I would be locked out of everything.

What I’d have to do then is go crawling to Operations Control (where do we get these names, you’d think I work on the Enterprise) and get them to tell me it. They would text the answer to my mobile, even though I’d be standing right in front of them.

I would not then have to eat my mobile, but only because they haven’t thought of that yet. I hope none of them read this.

Thankfully I got it right, because if they looked up what it was and found that it poured scorn on the security protocols that they are so proud of then it’s unlikely that I’d receive priority treatment next time I need them.

I’ll probably just get an email saying “try turning it off and then turning it back on again.”

Pass the Word

Back in 2003 I had to work in Cork for two weeks. The programme Celebrity Farm, RTE’s attempt at copying Big Brother, was on at the time, and the Tin family watched it every night. This was not because we are (to borrow Anneelicious’s phrase) about as deep as a puddle (though we are), but because the singer Mary Coughlan was one of the contestants, and her daughter was in Tinson1’s class.

I was watching in the hotel in Cork when Mary was evicted. I texted “damn” to the then 11-year old Tinson1, and received the one word reply “bumber”. 

I thought this was hilarious, especially when I discovered that he had actually asked Mrs Tin how to spell “bummer” before he sent it (her defence was that the film Dumb and Dumber was out at the time, so she based the spelling on that). Anyway, ever since then the word “bumber”, rhyming with “number”, has been used by every member of our house whenever anything bad happens.

And I’ve always used it as my password for logging in at work, since it was easy to remember. However, over the past few months new procedures have been brought in at the office. Our passwords change every couple of months, and each one must have at least 7 characters, at least 1 uppercase letter, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 symbol. It mustn’t resemble our actual names, or any of our last 10 passwords. Not only that, but the program sneers at you as you’re selecting one, telling you your first selection is “weak”. It only moves through “moderate” to “strong” as you add so many characters that you can’t possibly remember it, so you end up writing it on a post-it and sticking it to the bottom of your screen. I can’t believe our netadmin team don’t see that coming.

A password regime like this is thought up by people who believe that computer genuises, if they turned to hacking, would forego the chance to empty out bank accounts in Switzerland and choose instead to break into our intranet forum and read our grumblings about the taste of the coffee. They won’t let you use something personal because, of course, the government know everything about you, and they’d soon work out which child/spouse/pet’s name you were using.

These people believe that the Will Smith & Gene Hackman film Enemy of the State was a documentary and not fiction. I’m afraid the last decade does not support their belief that the Powers-That-Be can see into your kitchen from a satellite in space and can tell what you ate for breakfast. It transpires that the P-T-B can’t tell a terrorist plot from a vegetable plot, and wouldn’t notice Osama Bin Laden if he delivered pizza to them while they were staring at their computer screens looking for him.

 Anyway, my password expired again this morning, and I was frantically trying to think of something, when I read the instructions again. “Don’t use real names”, it said, and in an instant I knew what to do.

My new password (I may as well tell you, it’ll change again soon) is Jomwalaughyk8# (you’re the ‘#’, SaS, it’s meant to be cricket stumps).

The program has grudgingly conceded that my password is “strong”. Bloody right it is.