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Some Secrets Indeed Worth Keeping
I recently got a new PIN number for a credit card, bringing to something like 20 the number of PINS and passwords I'm expected to have on instant recall in order to go about my 21st century business.
I have PIN numbers for cards. I have PIN numbers for telephones. I have passwords (and passphrases) and to use on various computers with various programs. I even have a pass-sentence, which is something I'd like to do on the people who made it all necessary. And why is it necessary?
I got hacked.
My security was inadequate, which made me feel not only violated, but old. Remember, I come from a world where security meant memorizing your locker combination.
This happened several months ago, and, to be honest, I didn't know until the hacker sent one of those embarrassing e-mail solicitations that offers low prices on - well, it ain't Geritol, let's put it that way - from one of my e-mail accounts to another.
The receiving account was one I don't really use anymore. I've had it since I bought my first computer, a Flintstone 100. Back then, the only way to get a decent price on a computer was to sign a multiple-year contract with an Internet Service Provider with a reputation that made all your computer-savvy friends snicker. Or, in the case of my brother, laugh so hard he shot root beer from his nostrils.
I logged on (surprised that I remembered the password) and found the aforementioned e-mail lounging in the in-box. Hey, I thought, I don't remember sending that. I opened it and saw that I was offering the Internet's lowest prices on It Ain't Geritol. I really don't remember sending that, I thought.
Quickly I switched over to the sending account. In that inbox I found messages from roughly half the computer users in North America telling me to knock it off with the spamming or they'd tell the authorities on me. Then I got one from the authorities telling me, in short words and simple sentences because only a moron would let it happen, that I appeared to have been hacked.
Now, it certainly wasn't as bad as it could have been. Thanks to lucky coincidence, I stumbled onto the hack mere seconds after it had happened. And my finances were safe. I already knew better than to store my credit card numbers and such in my computer, preferring instead to have them tattooed on my forehead.
Just kidding. I kept them where they belonged, on the credit cards, in my wallet, which at all times is close to my ... well, not my heart. Further south.
At the time, I was using the same password for a lot of my computer stuff, and I decided this was foolishness that had to stop. I embarked on a new program of changing all my passwords and PIN codes so that no two were exactly alike. It took a while, but I got it done. Then I set about the task of memorizing them from a cheat sheet. I'm still working on that part.
Frankly, I don't know if it will ever get done. Seems like every day I run into something that's going to require me writing a new password or PIN code to the cheat sheet. There's only one problem.
I can't remember where I hid it.
© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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