What’s the secret password?

Remember when this phrase meant something exciting? When it represented mystery, or access to some exclusive environment? Now it just gets you access to stuff you already have. If you’re lucky.

No entryI’ve just spent way too much time trying to access a long-forgotten password so I can renew my boys’ sports association memberships – to no avail. It now looks like I will have to make *audible gasp* an actual phone call to retrieve them.

Who uses the phone anymore? Well, I’ll tell you – only those of us desperate, feeble people who can’t remember/find/access our %*#! passwords.

I come from a bygone era where we told – explicitly – not to write down our passwords. I suppose the thought was you had to protect yourself from your co-worker (yeah, that guy in the next cube whose password was “password”) so he would not log on while you were at lunch and access the salaries of all your key executives.

Or maybe you were protecting yourself from that thief with the time to log on and shop before they left the house with your obsolete PC that couldn’t get through an online transaction without timing out.

But now, because there are people around the world who spend all their time looking for ways to hack your passwords (for the sole reason, it seems, of hacking other people’s passwords) we not only have to write everything down, we also have to develop elaborate, indecipherable codes. You know, the ones that look like you fell asleep on the keyboard?

I think I spend as much time trying to retrieve passwords as I spend doing whatever it is I need the password for – sports team registration, renewing a library book, ordering museum tickets. There are some functions I’ve used once and never used again because I can’t access my password or set up a new account with my existing email (the site that manages my kids’ school pictures comes to mind).

I’m hoping some entrepreneurial hacker will decide to go the straight-and-narrow and set up a service for those of us who can no longer access our own accounts. Should be a growing market – after all, the computing public isn’t getting any younger. Soon we won’t be able to remember passwords OR read our own handwriting. There’s money to be made.

Until then, I guess I’ll dig through the file folder full of illegible chicken scratchings to see if I can turn up the password I need. If I can find the folder.

20 thoughts on “What’s the secret password?

  1. I enjoy your blog entries, Sarah! As for passwords — I have a separate Rolodex just for passwords — and the passwords are all in code on the Rolodex cards. Heaven forbid I should take a knock on the head and have memory problems!


  2. Sarah,

    Believe it or not, it’s already big business. Check out LastPass and 1Password for two of the more popular password keepers. If you’d rather keep these things at home, my suggestion would be to write your passwords down in a mini notebook or card file and store them where you keep your important papers, like a fireproof lock box. It’s a good idea to do this anyway, just in case someone in your home needs to access this information in an emergency situation.


  3. I totally get it! I used to have one password for everything, but now passwords need a capital letter, number and symbol, so now I have one password with 20 variations. I forever go through all of them until I get the right one and when it works I can’t remember which one I just typed! Grrr…


  4. Yeah and the irritating thing about those fell-asleep-on-the-keyboard passwords is that they’re actually *more* hackable than plain language ones. Because proper hackers don’t spend a lot of time trying to guess whether you’re the sort of person who owns a dog called Fido, they use computer programs who eat random strings of symbols for breakfast but couldn’t put together a grammatical sentence if their run-time depended on it. So the more-difficult-to-remember ones are also the least secure.



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