“Freedom of Password”: Campaign to End Password Tyranny

This has been a long time coming. I am currently bursting at the seams with simmering rage and garlic shrimp scampi (dinner at Red Lobster, see) and I feel in my soul that it is time for my first rant of the year.

PASSWORD REQUIREMENTS.

If you’re anything like me, using a single password for all your websites is preferable to memorizing 50+ of them. If I had the mental capacity to store all that information, I’d probably use it for other purposes, such as filling out college financial aid forms, figuring out how to convince Cat the kitchen sink is not a watering hole, and remembering not to eat three times more Cheddar Bay biscuits than I can stomach.

Anyway, because, throughout the college application process, I’ve had to register multiple accounts for multiple sites, my password issue has spiraled out of control.

Say my password is kernelsanders. Even if someone somehow infers my password is the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, he wouldn’t spell it correctly. And because I am of the opinion that we should spell “colonel” exactly how it sounds, I won’t forget the password.

But kernelsanders won’t work for every site. For extra security, sites insist you include a number in your password: kernelsanders1. Some sites insist you include two: kernelsanders11. Some sites require two different numbers: kernelsanders911. Some sites want a capital letter: Kernelsanders911. Some sites demand the inclusion of special characters: ~Kernelsanders911. Some sites reject words found in the dictionary: ~Krnlsndrs911.

~Krnlsndrs911. WHAT!?!

I started with one password. Now I have six variations.

The obvious solution would be to set all my passwords to that sixth, all-inclusive password. But some sites don’t allow special characters, and even if they did, by then, I probably would have already forgotten the passwords I needed to change.

Yes, password requirements might prevent people from creating dumb, trite passwords like password and 1234, thereby upping password security, but it also dramatically ups the chance of us forgetting our passwords. (And don’t even get me started on security questions.)

Once I tried a couple too many password variations and got locked out of my email account for two days, during which I had back-to-back nightmare sequences about important people waiting for my responses to their important emails. From that trying experience, I shaved a good year off my lifespan and realized that I wasn’t nearly as in demand as I thought. (The highly anticipated deluge of emails turned out to be spam.)

To prevent a repeat of that experience, I started keeping track of all my password variations on a piece of paper hidden safely on top of my desk. (Actually, it’s not. Hidden safely, I mean.) Not the best idea, for obvious reasons, but it’s all I have.

Please, password tyrants. At the very least, try to be more consistent or make those security requirements suggestions, so that if we get hacked, we’re entirely to blame.

Well, us and the hackers. Come to think of it, maybe this post should’ve been less about protecting our rights to be idiots and more about eliminating password thieves instead.


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