Thursday, January 19, 2017

Password Purgatory by Alicia Dean


Am I the only one who thinks keeping up with and changing passwords is an unfathomable nightmare? Yes, I know, we need the security, but geez…at what cost? Our sanity? Long ago when I was a young'ish, naive, bright-eyed first time computer user, I chose a password that would be easy to remember. I vowed to use that same password for everything, until the end of time (against the dire warnings of the Password Guru/Gods/Kings, who insist you should use different passwords for everything, change them more often than  you do your underwear, and be sure to include lower case letters, capital letters, numbers, symbols, morse code, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Klingon).

However, my fairy tale password fantasy was soon shattered. Because, just like the Password Guru/Gods/Kings, many sites did not like my simple, easy to remember password. They insisted I add all the aforementioned ridiculousness. They weren't all that subtle about it either. I'm sure you've seen THIS before:



So, I did as they demanded. I created another ‘universal’ password that included all of that. Only one, though, so I’d be sure to remember it. Guess what? The omnipotent ruler of the computer hemisphere was STILL not happy. Periodically, one of the sites I visited would give me the dreaded message: “It’s Time to Update Your Password” – WHAT??!!??!!! No, please!!! Spank me, stick a fork in my eye, waterboard me, make me watch endless episodes of "Keeping up with the Kardashians"…ANYTHING besides making me change my password! 

But, alas, I DID have to change it. And, of course, I’ve had to change it many times since. You know how it goes, you try to use a wrong password on a site, so they make you update it. You make note of it somewhere, but you can’t remember where, so the next time you go into the site, you have to update it again. You provide a 'new' password and get the message: Please try a password you haven’t used before. You’re like, how??? There ARE no passwords I haven’t used before…

But, yesterday, I experienced the worst possible password fiasco. I pulled out a laptop I hadn’t used in a while. I typed in my most recent Microsoft password to get past the Guard of the Windows and access my desktop. I received a message: “You are not connected to the internet. Please use the last password you used on this computer.” WTF??? I can’t remember a password from 5 minutes ago, let alone freaking months ago. I attempted again, and again, and was shunned with every try. Then, I was like, “Oh, I just need to connect to the internet.” I did (after I had searched for and located my wifi password, of course). I tried my most recent Windows Password. Nope, sorry, “Incorrect Password.” How could it be incorrect? I updated it YESTERDAY. 

Pleeeeaaassseeee, I just want to access my desktop. Is that too much to ask?


I got onto my desktop PC and logged in to Windows, using the same recently-updated password, just to be sure. Yes, I confirmed, it was correct. I tried again on the laptop. Huh-uh, nope, sorry, too bad, so sad. Okay, so maybe it didn’t like me effing around with so many passwords. I’ll start all over. I updated my Microsoft PW again. Same message. Grrrr. I started a ‘chat’ with a Microsoft customer service rep. She went through all the questions/steps, and couldn’t help me. She referred me to their tech support, who would call me. I turned the phone over to my daughter, since I had to get ready for work. (This was ALL before I went in to the day job). My daughter finally noticed that I was missing an ‘I’ when I set up my email address, so it was AlicaMDean instead of AliciaMDean. (SMH…how did I do that???) Then, by some miracle, I remembered the password I was ‘probably’ using during that time. I tried it and...voila! I was in!!!


Whew. What a freaking pain! What do people do who only have ONE computer, the one they are trying to log into? WHY do we need protection from even getting onto Windows? What can ne'er do wells and dastardly fiends do to us via Windows when they don’t know all of our many, many, complicated and extensive passwords? I couldn’t care less if someone accesses my desktop. Help yourself! I just want a world where I’m not controlled, judged, and tormented by password demons. Is that too much to ask?

Soooo...I guess what I'm trying to say is, do any of you have a solution? An easy way to update/store/remember/survive Password Purgatory?


17 comments:

Margo Hoornstra said...

Although I'm well aware of, and share, your pain - hilarious and entertaining post. Who among us hasn't been there at one time or another. Glad you finally cracked the code. Now, make note of how you did it, because it's a sure bet you'll run into the password demons again.

Leah St. James said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! I feel your pain! Not only do you have to have "alphanumeric" combinations, but every site is different. One site allows "special" characters, another doesn't, and another permits only a handful. I have a little notebook where I stash them all...plus slips of paper all over my desk...plus a "password manager" on my browser and email. That's at home. All the same issues at work--one for corporate, then a different set of rules for each of our vendors. Help meeeeeeee.

Gee, maybe being snowed in with no power isn't so bad after all! :-)

Alicia Dean said...

Margo - :) Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. I guess it's better to laugh than cry! Yeah, I'll make a note of it, but I won't remember where I put the note...

Leah - YAY! Kindred souls. Same with me, I have all those different methods and I have work passwords too. I've kept them in notebooks, but when they change, and you have to scratch them out, or you decide to put them in a different notebook... EEEK!! LOL. No kidding!

Jannine Gallant said...

I use variations of the same few words for all passwords. (I know, my bad.) So, when the computer in its infinite wisdom refuses to automatically log me in just in case I'm not me after such-and-such a time period, I start trying one variation after the other until I get it right for that site. Total pain! Thanks for the morning smile.

Rolynn Anderson said...

What a great post, Alicia! You covered all the slings and arrows of this outrageous battle to stay safe. My sense: Russian and Chines hackers will find a way to get into my computer if they need/want to, no matter how smart I am with password change. These days, I'm not even comfortable with that "shall I save your password?" thingy that comes up when I choose a new one. Makes things quicker, but "the computer" has a list of my passwords, so someone could steal that list, along with the other four-page list that I have saved under a password. My husband calmly uses the kind of password he should never use with a slight variation...hasn't changed it, ever. And he keeps all the accounts for us. Makes me crazy!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I have a large address book and a bottle of "white out." The pages are starting to stick together from so many changes.

I'm supposed to keep track of Calvin's, too. But he'll forget his, get in trouble, and change it...and forget to tell me so I can update the address book. Then we waste a good hour using his old one, figuring out a new one, and it better be simple because he doesn't go for this character stuff with a dollar sign or anything like that.

Yeah, it's a bane of one's existence or as Effie, my pink-haired hippie character, would say, "It's a pain in my a$s."

Brenda Whiteside said...

I have a printed out list of all my passwords that I carry with me everywhere. I have to retype it every year because of changes or additions and deletions. I am bad at changing my passwords unless prompted and only a couple of my sites has ever asked I do that. I cringe at my husbands habit of always using the same password. Good thing I don't let him do the banking or bill paying! We aren't wealthy or famous so if he does get hacked, the foolish hacker wouldn't get much. Would be a pain though, but he won't listen to me about creating passwords so I give up. Good post.

Alicia Dean said...

Hi Jannine - Yes, I've tried a few variations of the same password, but since some sites require different criteria, that doesn't always work. You're welcome...thanks for stopping by!

Thanks, Rolynn... Ha, it's nice to see I'm not the only one with password woes. Yes, if hackers want in, they're going to get in. :)

Yes, Vonnie...most definitely a bane! I transfer notebooks too often to make writing them down a viable option. The white out can be a pain! Sometimes, I can't remember if I've updated a password or if the one in my 'list' is still the old one. I have a 'note' section in my phone that I use, but I don't always keep that updated either.

Hi Brenda...I don't change my passwords any more often than I have to, but it seems I have to...often. :) I'm SO glad I don't have a husband to keep up with as well. LOL Thank you!

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Ugh! You and me both! I hate all the sites that make me constantly change my password. It's such a pain and when google "remembers" one, it takes me forever to remember how to change it's "memory" too.

Diane Burton said...

I hear you, Alicia. I try to keep my passwords simple and relatively easy to remember. Do I remember them? No. Windows used to have a feature that I could turn off the password requirement upon start up. I only used the password when taking the laptop out of the house. With Win 10, there's no choice. Password required. What a pain. Just to open the computer. When I worked at the Paycheck Job, we got reminders every 2 weeks to change the password. I hated that, but it was a business and I obeyed.

Andrea Downing said...

Oh boy do I feel your pain. I spent an hour on the pbone with my bank today and, why? PW of course. Could not get into my accounts. I don't often go into this bank account so when I tried, had forgotten the pw. But, hey, they want to know not only the pw but the security question (favorite book) and then a code sent to your phone. OK. Well, I just got a new phone so when I went into that, it said it didn't recognise that application-- Please phone the bank. and so it went until I reached the Phillipines in order to get everything straightened out and an hour and a half had passed... I'll leave the story there, but you well know what I went through...

marissagarnerauthor said...

Ah, one of the many curses of technology. I keep a cheat sheet buried deep in a file on my laptop with "encrypted" info on user names/passwords for a zillion sites/accts. The file is so hidden and innocuous that I'm sure no computer thief would find it if he/she could get pass the Windows password to get in. Of course, I have to remember to change the cheat sheet every time I set a new user name or pw, which is no small feat either. Such a pain any way you do it.

Maureen said...

I can relate. I hate having so many passwords- but I loved the post! I either save the password to my computer (I know, not usually recommended) and I also have a "password safe" that I got on amazon. It looks like a big calculator, and hopefully the batteries won't die unexpectedly, but I store my passwords there. It was the step up from my tattered notebook.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Oh I despise those sites that make me change my password every so often!
UGH

Great post.
Good luck and God's blessings
PamT

Alicia Dean said...

Elizabeth...so true! That Google memory is not as helpful as one might think.

Yes, Diane. I feel like it's OUR business if we want someone to get into our info. :) But at the day job, you're right, we have to follow the rules. Speaking of which, at my day job, my scanner suddenly stopped scanning to me. I forgot, it's tied to my windows password, so, I had to update THAT since I changed my PW a few days ago. Sheesh...

Yes, Andrea, I DO know how the rest of the story went. That has ALSO happened to me. I change phone numbers and it wants to send the code to my old phone, but I can't update my phone number because I can't log on!!!

Marissa, yes, SUCH a pain! I am not even worried about anyone getting to a 'file' I'm just trying to figure out a central place to keep all pw AND to remember to update them. Maybe I should use Google Sheets. I've become quite fond of google docs, sheets, forms. So handy!

Ha, thanks, Maureen. Hmmm...I've never heard of a password safe. that's a cool idea. Surely there is some kind of safe guard in place in case batteries die?

Pamela, it seems we are all in agreement. I don't know why they feel the need to tell us when to change OUR passwords!!

Thanks to all for stopping by. It is great to know I'm not overreacting. (Well, I may have been just a BIT dramatic in my post...) :)

J L Wilson said...

I use an app called "Keeper" to track my passwords. All I need to remember is one password. It sits on my desktop and my phone and my tablet. Lest anyone hack into Keeper, I use abbreviations for my "real" passwords, so I'll have things like "s52" or "m" -- which I know what it means. And I have those annotated in a file so if I keel over, my husband can figure it out.

You can also use Keeper to assign a random password for you. You add the entry into the Keeper database and ask it to create a pwd for you. It's all pretty simple to use. It's free or you can pay like $50 a year to make backups to their "vault" (i.e., the cloud).

You could also use Google Docs or something like that, but the problem with that is if you don't have Internet access, you're S.O.L. That's why I like an app that can sit on my computer, my phone, or my tablet. I can always get to it via one of those methods.

Alicia Dean said...

Hi JL, just saw this. Wow, great idea! I'll give that a try. Thank you!!