The wrong password can make life pretty tough

Date Published: 
December 9, 2011

We all like to feel secure.
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There’s a sense of comfort we gain from being secure as far as personal safety, monetarily, romantically, you name it. Human beings are basic creatures, and all creatures like to feel safe. But a true sense of security goes beyond safety, doesn’t it?

Squirrels like to know that they have enough nuts on hand to get through the winter, parents like to know that their children are tucked away at night and most of us fall asleep a lot easier if we know there is money in the checking account to handle our bills and put food on the table. This is not a new phenomenom, as we could pretty easily assume that cavemen slept a little better knowing they had 900 pounds of brontosaurus burgers in the walk-in fridge and Lincoln probably felt pretty secure going to the play that night ...

Bad example.

Throughout the years of this civilization, we have come up with vaults, panic rooms, home security systems, low-risk savings plans and chastity belts, all so we could feel a little more secure in our lives. And then the Internet happened.

We have become more and more reliant on handling our business over the Internet. We pay bills, do Christmas shopping, enjoy subscriptions to news services, what have you. The more Web sites we visit to conduct business or simply frequent because of hobbies or interests, the more passwords and registration names we acquire.

And that can be maddening.

It actually got to the point where I got an app for my phone that just holds Internet passwords and registration names. Of course, I was telling that to somebody one day who also got that app, but she then forgot the password to access said app, rendering the app, and all that was secure within it, quite moot.

Passwords themselves are funny entities. We try to pick things that we won’t easily forget, but also passwords that won’t be easily guessed by other people. For instance, I can’t use things like “digress” or “Jameson” or “magical hair-increasing potion” because people would probably try those things first if they were trying to access my personal information. On the flip side, I can’t very well go using “4I872WX9G31LK” because, well, I would never begin to be able to remember it. I’m in my 40s and have had some rough years mixed in there. Get off my back.

I came across a list on mashable.com recently that featured a list from SplashData that featured the 25 worst Internet passwords, based on how common they are used. First, which was no surprise, was “password.” My guess is people use that because they don’t think anybody would actually guess it. Well, guess what? They would, and have, hence the top ranking on stupid passwords.

The creativity continued on the next two passwords, “123456” and “12345678.” Yes, “1234567” also made the list at number 7. Again, you might think you’re being clever, but you are not. The Internet is on to that one, as well.

There were a few others that would seem obvious, such as “qwerty,” “letmein” and “trustno1.” And a few that kind of surprised me in “ashley,” “qazwsx,” and “dragon.” I was very surprised to see my dog’s name, Bailey, on the list, but I’m guessing it’s not all about her.

SplashData did include some tips for creating passwords, and they make sense:

“1. Vary different types of characters in your passwords; include numbers, letters and special characters when possible.

“2. Choose passwords of eight characters or more. Separate short words with spaces or underscores.

“3. Don’t use the same password and username combination for multiple Web sites. Use an online password manager to keep track of your different accounts.”

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, but as we know, it’s also the season for fraud and theft. Can you still have your password hacked, even if you take precautions? Sure. Many hackers steal passwords from the sites we log on to, which is completely out of your control, just like how professional burglars can get in and out of your home even if your doors are locked and have an alarm system.

That being said, it’s our experience here that many of the cars and houses that have been broken into in this area over recent years have been unlocked. Much of the crime here, in my humble opinion, comes from people trying to feed addictions — mostly to prescription meds. Locking a door can force them to move on to another target, and the same goes for coming up with a password that is not easily guessed.