Saturday, May 07, 2016

Passwords

The world woke up the other day to the news that hundreds of millions of Yahoo, Google, and other widely-used systems had been hacked, and user names and passwords were posted on the Dark Net.  Since I have several email accounts that use Yahoo and Gmail, it meant changing passwords.  Now, the companies that market computer services are always very cheerful and glib about things like this.  "Change your password often!  It's easy and fun!  It makes you sexually attractive!"

Except, of course, that reality is quite a bit different.  First, you have to come up with a new password.  Security geeks will tell you that the longer, the better, and you should have a mixture of capitals, lower-case, numbers, and special symbols.  And you should never use the same password for more than one account.  And it shouldn't have words, birth years, names of your pets, or other easy-to-remember things.  And some sites require passwords of a certain length.  And you should never ever write them down.

Who the hell are they kidding?

Okay, so first I sat down and created a list of potential passwords.  I used a common trick of coming up with an 8-15 word sentence and then using the last letter of each word in the password.  Some of the letters are turned into numbers or special symbols - an S might become a 5, for example - and special symbols are sprinkled in here and there.  This gives me a password that might look like this: Co6^gD@md4#.  And then I (gasp) WROTE THEM DOWN because my memory is for shit.

Then I started logging into my accounts and changing the passwords.  That part wasn't too difficult.  It meant looking up the old password in my 3-ring paper binder (not connected to the interwebs, so try hacking that, Anonymous), changing the password, making sure it worked, and changing the password in the binder.  Then I had to go into all my computers (3), iPhones, and iPads to update the passwords there as well.  Very time-consuming and it took hours to go through them all.

The tricky part came with the emails associated with my two websites - one for my art, the other for my consulting business.  Spammers have long since found my email addresses on those sites and I get literally hundreds of invitations a day to enhance my manhood, refinance my house, meet dozens of beautiful women who are dying to have sex with me, or earn a tidy commission for handling million-dollar inheritances for kindly widows in Nigeria.  My web host is incapable of screening them out.  Instead, I use Gmail to retrieve the messages, and Gmail has been exceptionally effective at doing that.  The problem is, for some reason Gmail and my web host do not play well together.  Oh, they say they do, but not at my level.  The issue lies with my web host.  They are not really focused on small fry like me, they're designed for companies that have dedicated and trained system administrators that can understand words like "domain" and "DNS settings".  That is not who I am.  So every time I go in there to make changes, I have to plan on a day to re-learn the system, make the changes, then spend a considerable amount of time troubleshooting the reasons that the changes f'd everything up.  After making the changes yesterday, I still haven't gotten everything figured out yet.

I could switch to another web host provider, except that would mean doubling the cost of my web presence and having a lengthy period of trying to transfer sites, reconfigure computers, and suffer through interrupted operations.  So I keep it as is.  I'm a cheap bastard and lazy to boot.

And I'm not looking forward to having to do this again anytime soon.


1 comment:

SillyLittleLady said...

you could always try responding to the spammers ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QdPW8JrYzQ <- this guy did!