That’s right, we are playing Password, the classic game show. Allen Luden was the host I remembered from the sixties. He passed away in 1980, but hosted the game show where someone asked another player to guess the “password” from a clue word. I enjoyed playing along and, little did I know at the time, I would learn to hate the word. Not the game show, the word. Fast forward to the computer age. When I’m on a website and I see that I need a password, I cringe. What diabolical word will I be asked for? Let me go back a decade to where it affected me most.
I was working for a Yellow Page publisher as a sales consultant. We had just computerized the entire sales process. So, whether I was checking my commissions, looking up a directory or heading, or accessing my accounts, I needed a password. In the beginning, it was a snap. I used the same four-letter word for everything. A few years later, each program required a different password. Some were letters, some were numbers, and some were either four or six characters. So, I began writing them down to keep track. A few years later, all hell broke lose. Why? Because they had to change. Some every year, some every quarter, and some every month. Here’s the worst example I faced.
To access my pay site, I had to have a password with at least 2 numbers, 4 letters, and no special characters. A total of 8, with no 2 repeating and the letters could not spell a common word like “cash”or be alphabetical. Now I ask you, how does it know that it’s a common name? Okay, I’ll stop whining and will continue.
The numbers could not be in order, either. Every 30 days, I had to chose a new password that had different numbers and letters. So, I could start with 31PTYM64, and move on to 91M8KR62. But not 12AB98ME, because the numbers and letters were in order. After 18months, I began to lose track. I would get rejected because of a similar password that was used a year ago. Even though most of the numbers and letters were different, some ended up in the same order. A big no-no in password circles. Yikes!
Today, things are no different. My cell-phone site needs a new word every 90 days. It also needs numbers and letters, different from the previous one. I have about 50 passwords in use on a variety of sites such as my banks, credit cards, utilities, and those I use for business, shopping, travel, entertainment, and even article writing. In short, just about every site I frequent requires a password. I log them into my bookmarks to keep track, but sometimes that doesn’t work. Once in a while I’ll forget that they must be in lower case only or have to have a capital letter to start. It’s difficult to tell because they appear as this ******** for security purposes. And who hasn’t logged in with the wrong password three times and told you are now locked out of your own account?
Thank goodness that most sites allow you to retrieve a lost password, but that’s annoying as heck when you are in a hurry. Instead, you must supply your dog’s name or your birthplace and await an email with the answer. I know that all of you reading this can relate and are collectively nodding your heads. I just think that the password mania that is sweeping the Internet must be changed before it’s too late. We are running out of passwords as fast as domain names. There must be a better way, like eventually using fingerprints, voice or pupil recognition. But for now, the password is “enough. ”
Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master's Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, “Pursuit of the Phoenix. " His latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages" which can be seen at his website, http://www.poweradbook.com Currently, he is the Marketing Director for http://www.thenurseschoice.com a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.