PASSWORDS were once only used in bad spy films. Or by children who formed their own Black Hand Gang and wore their blazers backwards. Or in the army when a guard said, “Who goes there?”
These days, everybody has passwords for mobile phone, voicemail and phone banking, and any number for email and social networking sites, internet membership sites and online bank accounts.
Most people, it seems, tend to opt for simple. Password, believe it or not, is the top password in use online. So the accounts of people who use that would be easy meat for a hacker from a Sunday newspaper of dubious morality or an international scamming ring based in Volgograd.
I made a list the other day and found I had 42 passwords. Those for innocuous sites such as Hertz or iTunes are fairly simple but they are much more complex for bank or credit card or sites where finance or my identity is at risk.
Many people faced with having lots of passwords, may choose the same one. They often choose something that is easy to remember. This is not a good idea. Also short is bad and long is good. Rover is not good. Existentialism22 is good.
A combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers that stretch up to 18 or 20 characters is best of all.
I checked the strength of my passwords at the site How Secure Is My Password and got a shock. Oo-er. I’d better think again.
The site tells you how long it would take to crack a password using a desk top computer. My simple passwords would fall in 32 seconds. The one for my bank account – which I thought was rather clever – would last 13 minutes. The password for my credit card, which is just random numbers, would take less than a second.
This is sobering stuff.
The one for my website is the best of the lot and would take about 8,000 years to crack. Rover, by the way, would take less than a second to fall. Existentialism22 would take a billion years.
So it is all change on the password front for me. How strong are yours?
READER Roy Bottomley has forwarded to me an amusing version of the song My Favourite Things which is a parody about getting old.
Dame Julie Andrews herself has sadly never sung it: the Oscar winner hasn’t had her once glorious singing voice since surgery to remove non-cancerous nodules on her vocal cords in 1997.
She later sued the New York surgeons, winning a large out-of-court settlement.
Dame Julie is in her seventies by the way, and I suspect she might smile at the sentiments.
Thanks, Roy, for thinking it might apply to me. Perhaps we could all sing the first two verses together, in the style of Dame Julie:
Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things...
Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things...
When the pipes leak, When the bones creak, When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don't feel so bad.
I WANT to know how to get out of recession and solve Britain’s financial problems? Then why not invoke the Patriotic Retirement Plan? Several readers have sent me a copy. The latest are Sue Crofts of Golcar and Neil Staples.
It advises the Prime Minister to use it instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that, it says, will only squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses. Here is the Plan:
There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
They MUST retire. Ten million job openings – unemployment fixed.
They MUST buy a new British car. Ten million cars ordered - car industry fixed.
They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – housing crisis fixed.
They MUST send their kids to school/college/university – crime rate fixed.
They MUST buy £100 worth of alcohol and tobacco a week – and there’s your money back in duty/tax
IF we are going out at night, my wife Maria does two things.
I’ll just put the telly on for the dog,” she says.
And she also leaves a light on.
She believes the TV will provide company for Lucky while we are out and that the light will extend the dog’s day until we get home when we switch it off and go to bed, which will be an indication to the dog that it is time to go to sleep.
This is Maria’s logic because the welfare of the dog is of paramount importance.
The fact that Lucky sleeps anyway, with the light on or off, is neither here nor there. It’s not as if she settles down to a good book once we are out of the door.
“By heck, I hope they remember to leave the light on. I’ve just to a good bit in The Hound Of The Baskervilles.”
The television is a different matter. Maria often leaves it on with the sound muted.
“Why not have the sound on?” I say.
“Don’t be silly. Lucky is deaf.”
Maybe if we just turned the sound up a bit? Or switched on the subtitles?
It might save Lucky having to ask that cocker spaniel on the field what's been going on in Corra.