Here’s the deal. When I was growing up I had to remember only one password – the three digit combination to the tiny padlock on my purple, Care Bears diary. Granted, I didn’t have all of the responsibilities of an adult, but as a nineteen year old, it was refreshing to only concern myself with the recollection of this one password. It’s a little different today.
According to an official sounding study I located, the average adult today has 25 password-protected accounts. Furthermore, the average adult uses only 6.5 passwords to protect these accounts. Which begs the question – what good is half a password? Does it, perchance, get you access to the face but not the book? Very suspicious.
But I can hardly blame the average adult, it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all of the passwords we need to get through a day in our digital age. I know that I can’t remember all of my passwords. I have 46 passwords written on the back page of my padlocked, purple, Care Bears diary – and I am constantly referencing this page when I need to access any of my many important online accounts. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to write down our passwords, but I don’t know what else to do. It’s the Catch-22 of passwords that the easier it is for you to remember, the easier it is for a hacker to guess. Unfortunately, the harder a password is for you to remember, the harder it is for you to remember, thus rendering the password fairly pointless as your inability to recall it denies you access to whatever it is that password was protecting in the first place.
And passwords are only getting more and more complicated. Many sites are now requiring you to use both uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers and special characters. It’s pretty easy for me to remember the password for my ATM (“Money Now”), it’s a little bit trickier for me to recall the password for my LinkedIn account (“2*goPW671#bLLlL39?vF21>4 Now”). And now many sites will kick you off, or accuse you of not being human, or deny you access all together after you incorrectly guess your password three times. Why should we have to be guessing our own passwords in the first place? But this has happened to me many times. Granted, I’m taking educated guesses, but I have no idea what most of my own passwords are. And when I try to create a new password, the site just tries to make me feel bad when that little password strength meter comes up and informs me that my current password choice is “weak.” Hey, screw you, password strength meter – I’m doing the best that I can over here, it’s a freakin’ complicated world, alright?
Passwords started out as something much simpler. In ancient Rome, the military guards would only allow access to certain areas if their toga-clad countryman knew the correct password.
“Halt,” the sentry would grumble, “Who goes there?”
“It is I, Antonius Danica Patrickus.”
“Hmmm, what is the password?”
“Simple. It’s 2*goPW671#bLLlL39?vF21>4 Now.”
And that’s all there was to it.
Clearly, most of our hesitant to enter this new world of complex, unique passwords. The three most common passwords in 2013 were: (1) 123456, (2) password, and (3) 12345678. Experts claim that 123456 is not a strong password as it follows a common pattern. Take a moment and see if you can spot it. That’s right, it’s a series of whole numbers in ascending order. Similarly, “password” is not a good password in much the same way that Child would not be a good name for your child. Some have extended the most common password by two digits, taking it all the way to 8 – but as they are still keeping the numbers in the order that we all learn in Kindergarten, it’s not a great improvement on the original.
But I understand the desire to keep it simple. I’m half tempted to change all my passwords to 1 -2 -3. Let the hackers do what they well. There’s only so much they’ll be able to accomplish with access to my old Poker Stars account, the eleven coupons on my grocery store card membership, and the eighty three bucks in my checking account.
My only real concern would be that they could access my Care Bears diary and find out that I had a crush on Mrs. Owens in third grade…crap, time to change my passwords again.