Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Irritation from Passwords Is No Secret

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Irritation from Passwords Is No Secret

Article excerpt

I know a man who has a problem - one little remarked upon but probably shared by millions of other people. Let us call it the attack of the killer passwords, which sounds more exciting than the actual details.

The man started his career when computers were rare or nonexistent. When his work finally provided him with an office computer, the systems manager gave him a password. He had never had a password before, and the novelty made him feel special.

It was a simple password, just a few letters and some numbers. It was not one he would have chosen for himself - being an average Joe, he would have used his dog's name combined with some numbers indicating an important date dear to him, such as when the Steelers won their first Super Bowl.

Although lacking a personal connection to his life, the password was easy to remember because it was the only one he had. Sometime later, he got a computer at home, and he then had to come up with a password of his own.

By this time, he realized he shouldn't just use words and numbers that could easily be guessed by someone of doubtful character, such as a Ravens fan. Not a problem. Two computers, two passwords - life was good for being simple.

As his career progressed, his retirement savings were lodged in two accounts. When the institutions overseeing them began to provide statements online, he was moved to get passwords so he could see his retirement savings going up and down like corks in a storm-tossed sea.

Now he had four passwords to remember. The attack of the killer passwords had not reached a quorum, but they were at least starting to become irritating. Wait, is that the password for Account A or Account B?

As this was going on, the iPhone became popular, and a simple password was required for it - even for the steam-driven version his wife had handed down to him so she could get the new model.

So that was now five passwords - no, come to think of it, six, because he also had a bank card to get cash from ATMs, and that required a PIN, a password by any other name.

When he joined Facebook, that too required a password, bringing the total to seven things to remember. …

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