When trying to retrieve some account information from a financial aid package recently, I was required to type in a 10 character long password mixed of letters, numbers, and other punctuation. None of my ‘regulars' fit the bill, and being that I made the code over four years ago, naturally, I didn't have a clue of what it could be. “Forgot your password?” I clicked the link. I was then asked a series of questions: 1. What was the name of my mother's elementary school? 2. What was the name of my first pet? 3. What is the name of your best friend?
The problem is, the answers were not so straight forward: 1. I know it's named after a president, but have no idea which one. 2. I had two first pets, as they were two turtles, which one had I written last time? 3. If I had to just pick one?! Who was my best friend four years ago when I filled this out?!
Recently, the New York Times explored a topic that many think about on a daily basis, but rarely talk about: the bevy of unique passwords we are required to remember on a daily basis.
Over the last year, sites from Facebook to LinkedIn, and even Mitt Romney's Hotmail, have been hacked. Only a few years ago, one password for all outlets and websites was enough, but since our Internet dependency has broadened, so has our password complexity. According to the article, it's gotten even worse at AT&T, where customers can pick among quasi-existential questions like “What is your dream job?” or brainteasers like “What is the last name of the most famous person you’ve ever met?”
Of course when you are trying to access important information in a timely manner, these little “fun” gimmicks of protection become a nuisance. To make light of it all, we highlighted some of the best quotes from the fashionably elite from the article:
Courtney Love recommends using mnemonics, saying it was something even a simpleton like herself could use. “You use the lyrics to a song,” she said, for example, “ ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ — litswd-1 — and that way you can’t forget it.” But eventually she ran into trouble when she started using “Hey Jude,” citing, “I kept forgetting if it was ‘Hey Jude, don’t make it bad’ or ‘Hey Jude, don’t make it sad,’ ” she said. “So I gave up on that.”
Actress Parker Posey writes them down “on tiny pieces of paper, like little secrets, because yes, someone could find them.” But then forgets which sites the codes are for.
Kevin Hertzog, a set designer in New York was troubled by the AT&T teasers,“What constitutes meeting?” he asked the Times. “Barbra Streisand asked me if we had a set of 12 plates in stock when I worked at Bergdorf Goodman, but I’ve had breakfast with Calvin Klein, so which person have I really met? Does it count if you shout out someone’s name on the red carpet on the Academy Awards as they walk by? If you go to the Christy Turlington event at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills and buy a yoga pant from her?”
Mickey Boardman, the editorial director of Paper Magazine, said,“They’ll ask you something like, ‘Who was your first teacher?’ and I can never remember if that means my first-grade teacher or kindergarten, because kindergarten isn’t really school,” Boardman continued, “And my first-grade teacher, Miss Thies, got married halfway through the year and became Mrs. Newell. So it’s mayhem.”
Traci Ullman, the famous comedian, recently consolidated her passwords on a Post-it note near her computer. She noted, “I thought the whole point of computers was, you were never going to have to write again,” she said.