Password Hell

The Internet is a great source of free information and instant-gratification communication. Want to know the latest-breaking news in Bangkok? Log onto the Bangkok Post? Need to send a bouquet of flowers for your sister’s birthday…today? You can track and transact anything online now. See if your check cleared. Post a response on a bulletin board. Endless.
The downside is that there’s the token tool to protect your privacy….the login and the password for each site and portal. At last count, I had 26 logins and passwords. My management strategy? Nothing.

Some of the logins or passwords are duplicates, but still, when some websites aren’t visited very infrequently, I can’t remember what login or password I set up for it. I’m having way too many senior moments, when I have only just conceded to being middle-aged. Yes it’s easy to get passwords reset when they send you via email a new one instantly, but still… I don’t write them down. Maybe I should.

It was a sad day Tuesday; I went to a memorial service for someone I had worked with ten years ago. I hadn’t been kept in touch with her much since we both left that workplace. But a mutual friend told me she had had a lung transplant in February. (No, she wasn’t a smoker.) So I’d called her up in May. She’d been recuperating in a rehab apt. in Stanford. She sounded hearty, in good spirits. On the phone, I remembered her vibrant smile. Sadly in early June, she lapsed into a coma. She was 56, too young to die, with so much potential unfulfilled. Yeah, I’m overwhelmed with the usual angst about why is it those who shouldn’t die young do, and we should live each day to the fullest because we never know, etc, etc.

As I’m writing this in our bedroom, Joe is packing his stuff for our trip, and there’s a pesky fly we’re trying to slay before we go to sleep. Unfortunately, it’s tending to take refuge in the higher parts of the ceiling.


3 thoughts on “Password Hell

  1. If you were using a Mac with the latest OS X, there is a very handy utility that comes with the OS called Keychain Access that will solve your problem with web, mail and system passwords.

    Simply put, Keychain Access is a password database. Once you set up in Keychain Access the login/password the first time for a certain website, for example, then you are pretty much home free after that. When you are using Apple’s web browser Safari and Mail app, the Keychain Access program will access and supply the login/password info for the password-protected websites or mail servers automatically.

    And in case you need to modify or view your password database in Keychain Access, it asks for your master password. Furthermore, Keychain Access saves the database in an encrypted file in your home directory, so even if someone steals your file from your hard disk it is useless if he doesn’t know your master. And if you have more than one Mac the passwd db file can be transferred to your other Mac and opened in the Keychain Access there with your master password.

    The bottom line is you still need to remember one password – the master – but that’s easier than trying to remember all of the passwords for all of the sites.

    I think there might be some similar third-party tool in the Microsoft Windows world, but Microsoft should really do something to rectify the situation: a tool like Keychain Access that integrates all the passwd management in one place so at the very least one doesn’t need to keep separate passwds in IE and Outlook Express for example.

  2. I keep my all 50+ of my passwords in my paper organizer (not my PDA) which i no longer use as an organizer (PDA now). I’m afraid of either loss or theft due to computer problems. For really unimportant passwords such as online newspapers, I use the same password with a uncommon name and number. More important passwords follow an simple algorithm (i can do in my head) that requires the name of the website or some other salient aspect of the site as input to generate a unique password. The most important passwords which are just a bunch of random numbers and letter and capitalization which i actually have to look up.

    I figure if someone wants to steal my identity they’ll have to do it the hard way and steal a physical item of seemingly little value (unless there is a huge black market for 10+ year-old low-end Dayrunners)…

    only vulnerability I see is Fire or inside job (can’t trust those sneaky cats!).

    The other thing you might want to try is to store your passwwords in a seemingly innocuous e-mail stored in one of your e-mail accounts that has hundreds of old stored e-mails in a single folder. The vulnerability is if the e-mail service is inaccessible at the time you want to use the (un)hidden e-mail to look up a password (unlikely — also services back up data to restore in case of crashes) OR if the FBI wants to investigate you for selling top secret Bicycle planning secrets to the Commmies (who actually got them from an incompetant/disgruntled FBI or CIA agent) — but chances are that regardless of any evidence, they’ll just slap you in shackles and put you in solitary for a year or so before trotting you out to the judge who will dismiss the case with prejudice and release you with an apology — so the existence of this password e-mail will be moot in this case.

    later c2,

  3. We prefer the low tech approach. We use a freebie, company logo-labeled, mini-address book that a friend gave us once to store the URL, user name and pw – a blackbook for the Internet age.

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