Password Insanity

There was a time when the only password you had to know was the one to get into the tree fort.  Sadly that time has passed us by.  The demands for more and more passwords with increasing complexity seems to rise every day. Yesterday I may have hit my tipping point.

As a technology fiend I was excited to see a particular iPhone app had finally gotten on board with Passbook.   Tim Hortons was finally letting me add my gift cards to my phone, so I could pay for a coffee (or 10 bread bowls of chili if they ever come back) without having to carry 18 pieces of plastic in my wallet.  The hitch?  I had to update the password on my account.  No big deal, I typed in my latest creation and awaited my reward. Unfortunately I was given the opposite, which can only been believed if seen:

Well, at least it's simple.

Sweet merciful…are they serious?  Am I protecting launch codes?  Is there plutonium in their donuts?  I almost deleted the app out of spite, but reluctantly added what was missing and moved on with my first world problems.  I look forward to the inevitable click on “Forgot your password?”

Speaking of which, that will bring up an entirely different list of loopholes, including the ever popular “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “What was your favourite pet’s favourite food?” or “What grade school teacher gave you the most homework?” etc. etc. etc…. I know I’m not alone when I say that these are the reasons I go against the two things that pretty much every tech expert says you’re supposed to do:

Change your password frequently.

Don’t use the same password for different accounts.

Change my password?  Listen, if I was hiding some incredible secret from a terrorist group I’d probably be changing my password every hour and living in a concrete box.  I’m not.  If hackers want to see how much (or little) room I have left on my credit cards that’s their problem.

Pictured: A hacker, or really anonymous online surfing.

Pictured: A hacker, or really anonymous online surfing.

As for the same password issue, that’d fly if we only had one or two to remember, but honestly, how many do you have?  I’ve got at least five for work alone, plus e-mail accounts, social media accounts, banking, shopping…I’m lucky if I can go more than an hour without having to punch something in from memory.  With my memory fading, the ability to diversify answers is becoming less and less.

We get it.  Corporations are getting hacked.  Target, eBay, Facebook, Microsoft, the New York Times, the list goes on and on.  They’re trying to protect with an abundance of caution.  I can appreciate the negative publicity that comes with each new security breach.  I can’t appreciate having to remember 500 different things so I can order a pair of socks.

Of course the story has a bittersweet ending: I got into my newly protected account, updated accordingly and can now access my coffee currency on my phone.  Sadly, the closest place where I can actually use it is over 45 minutes away.  They probably need a secret password when you get there.



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