The Madness of Passwords

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If I’m forced to remember one more password to buy a movie ticket or make a dinner reservation, I think I’m going to lose my mind. Security breaches may be happening all the time, but is a username and password really necessary just to control my thermostat?

Understand that I am an IT professional that works in healthcare, so I know the importance of security and passwords, especially in my field. But aren’t we taking this password mania a little too far? Do I really need to protect my identity when changing the cleaning time of my Roomba?

When did account security become mandatory to own a Panera Bread card? Was there a rash of identity thieves making off with chocolate scones? When I go to CVS, do I need to show a store card to earn valuable points if I buy a Snickers bar?

There are thousands of smartphone apps that require username and password. I have no problem with a secure password for my online banking and retail accounts, but why do I need to prove who I am when checking box scores on ESPN?

Not only do websites require passwords, they torture you by making it more and more difficult for you to even create one. You need to mix lower and uppercase letters, in addition to numbers and sometimes a special character. What ever happened to using your dog’s name “Sparky?”

My first ATM card, from the Dime Savings Bank in the Sunrise Mall in the late ’70s, required a four-character “personal identification number.” Somehow, that same four-digit code I chose in 1977 still works today, even after the Dime has changed names and merged several times since then.

But for today’s security technology, we are going to need a strategy. I’ve developed something simple for sites I don’t frequent often. I just hit the “forgot password” button and they send me a temporary password in an email that allows me to create a new one, which I will most likely never remember.

Unfortunately, that simple strategy doesn’t always work. Some websites now require answers to a series of “security questions” that are designed to identify moments in your life that only you would know the answer to. For example, “What is your mother’s maiden name,” or “who was your first-grade teacher,” or “what was your first car?” Some ask you to identify your favorite song or your first pet.

Maybe that works for you Millennials, but us Baby Boomers are struggling to find the answers, let alone remember them. I can tell you who made the last out of the 1969 World Series (Davy Johnson), but I’m not sure I remember the name of my teacher when I was five years old. Besides, people are innocently answering those types of questions on Facebook for criminals to see.

With all the threats of identity theft in today’s world, maybe it’s time to consider having a chip implanted that can once and for all prove who we are. We do it now for our pets, don’t we? Why not take it one step further? I know that’s drastic, but it’s not a terrible idea, is it? Criminals will always find a way to beat the system—that’s their job. But for the rest of us, a quick pinch of pain after the injection would provide us a lifetime without user names and passwords.

Of course, there are software apps that will store all your passwords while some websites and devices use thumb-print technology, but they don’t seem to work all the time. You think standing behind an old guy at the ATM is frustrating now, as he hovers over the card slot, swiping his card over and over the wrong way? Wait until he needs to use a thumb-print.

I just can’t take it anymore. Time to catch my breath and listen to some music on Pandora. Hey, wait a minute. Someone hacked into my “Sunday Morning Rock and Roll” playlist. Who the heck is Bruno Mars?

Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.

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Paul DiSclafani is a columnist for Massapequa Observer. He has called Massapequa home for 50 years.

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