1 August 2010

Oh where or where is my password?

I logged onto my computer last week and put in my network password, then to open my Outlook account I had to put another password in for that.  I had to open a different software program and needed yet another password for that.  I then went to check my voicemail and had to enter a password there too.  There are just too many passwords to remember, and that doesn't include my boss's passwords that I also need to know because I have to check his emails as well as my own. 

Along with our multiple work passwords, we have a password for our home computer, and if we sign up for Facebook, Twitter or any other website, we have another password to remember.  We have a password for the automated bank machine and if you bank online you have another one for that.  Even if you phone the bank they need your secret passcode or they won't speak to you about your account.  Sometimes I say to them, "Just give me a hint, how many digits are there in the password, then I will know which one I used?"  But they refuse to help me out.  I mean if it was really me I should know what my password is, but wait a minute, I am me and I still don't know. 

Of course the simple solution would be to have the same password for every aspect of your life, but nope that doesn’t work. One program requires a mix of alpha and numeric and only six digits, while another one requires upper and lower case, but only uses four digits.  And then there are the sites that assign you a password that I would never remember in a million years, but thankfully they normally give you a chance to change it once your email address has been verified.  And do we really have to change our work passwords every 60 days, and why can’t I use the same password I used a year ago? I kinda liked that one, but nope I can’t reuse the old password.

I realize the change in passwords is for security reasons, but I find it is just too hard to remember all of them so most of us just keep adding a number to our existing password, or like some people I know they put their password on a yellow sticky and stick it on their computer, which defeats the whole purpose of the secure password. Thank goodness I get three tries to pick the right one before the system locks me out. The first time it doesn't work, I assume I entered it wrong so try again.  When that doesn't work I remember, oh yeah I changed my password yesterday, but what did I change it to?  I usually get it right on the third try, but I have been locked out on a few occasions.

On some sites there is an option to "Remember my password," which is helpful until your system crashes and you lose everything and then how are you ever going to remember what the password was in the first place since you haven't had to enter it in a year?  I thought I was being smart and saved all my  passwords in a sub-folder in Outlook, but alas that too was gone in the crash.  Of course even if the system hadn't crashed, I would have needed to know my server and Outlook password so I could get into my sub-folder with all my passwords?

And let's not stop with passwords, what about log-in names? Some sites use your email address as the log in, while others require you to create your own. I can never remember if I used my email address, my first and last name or was assigned a log-in name.

I know we are probably stuck with the current system of trying to remember log-in names and passwords, but thankfully at work if you do forget your password the administrator can re-set it, and then you have the option of changing it again.  Although the new password can't be anything you have used in the last six months. Ugh!  Back to the drawing board.


Anonymous said...

I purchased a small address book in which I can keep the website address along with my user name and/or password for each particular site. Using the address book allows me to keep websites alphabetically rather than searching through pages of a notebook or sticky notes in all states of disarray.

Anonymous said...

I leave an excel sheet on the company Server that only my IP & station login can Access and keep it updated. 17 passwords at work alone with different sites and logins. However, if the server crashes, there goes my excel sheet!

Patricia Robb said...

I hope you keep your address book locked up as that would be a very valuable source of information for someone up to no good. I understand the need to have it written somewhere though and I have contemplated doing something similar, but then where do I keep it so it is safe? The Excel sheet sounds like a good idea as long as you remember to update it when you have to change your password.

Thanks everyone for your input.

Jodith said...

I keep mine in an encrypted Word file on my computer. That way, I only have to remember my computer log-in to be able to access all of my usernames and passwords. I also have an encrypted file with various other important numbers like my and my husbands social security numbers and the like.

For the person who keeps the passwords on the server, don't worry. Servers are usually backed up daily, so your file will likely be restored. However, you probably want to password protect file. Anyone with administrator access to your server will have access to your file.

Another tip for keeping a password file: Don't use the word "password" in the title or the file itself. If someone scans your computer or network for that word, they'll find your file right off.

Jolene said...

We have a couple of computers that have multiple users with basic usernames/passwords, and for those, we took a very small piece of paper, have them on that, and then taped to the bottom of the mousepad. Works so far! But things like email etc, are all logged up in the noggin.

Patricia Robb said...

I rest my case. Passwords, passwords and more passwords, Ugh!

Tammi said...

Remembering passwords and user-names has also been a source of great frustration for me recently. And just to leave this comment I had to remember my user-name and password for Google!!

The way I currently store my passwords for work purposes is in my business outlook account under the Notes option. I just make a note for each account whether it's our purchasing page, our network software products, or websites i need to access for various reasons and put my user name and password on the note as well as the website address. It's been the most efficient way for me to keep track of them since it's so handy to get to and I 'back myself up' by putting the log-in info for my outlook account in a notes area on my cell phone.

Recently I decided to treat myself and get the iPhone and just bought an app for passwords which I haven't tried just yet but I'm hopeful that may help alleviate some of my log-in/password overload. But, it's password protected...

Tammi from:

coralsoft said...

Instead of having lots of different passwords or having the same one on each system, have a simple rule based system.

For example, start off with a single, memorable strong password containing a number substitution, a symbol substition, upper & lower case, eg, Nat!0n5 (Nations). Then for each site/system you use, enhance that password by some rule specific to the site, so that it's over the minimum password length (usually 8 chars), eg, 1st four characters as a suffix. So your Facebook password becomes Nat!0n5Face, your Amazon password becomes Nat!0n5Amaz, etc.

You could have a different base password for important sites (online banking) and sites where security might be less tight (shopping, newspapers, etc), so that your important stuff is not at risk from discovery of an email from, say, signing up to a store's mailing list (or maybe for sharing with your boss, unless you want access to his bank accounts :) ).

If you're forced to change the password periodically, incrementing the number should work and at least gives you a good chance of guessing.

So instead of 20 or 30 passwords, you only need to remember 1 or 2 plus your standard rule for 99% of situations.

Even if someone guesses a really obvious base word, by putting in a digit, a symbol and a whole derived section, they're unlikely to be able to guess the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

I have a system of passwords; one for unimportant things like signing up for email newsletters that sort of thing, another for medium important things like facebook and my work email, and a final one for very important things like paypal. They all have both letters and numbers, and the very important one has uppercase too. My work passwords change after a set period of time, but I use a basic password with a number at the end.... it reminds me how long I've been there that I'm almost on 13!