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As Long as We Remember...

May 12, 2014

Gloria’s Digital Demise via Personal Passcodes

Steven R. Berryman

Her life seemed perfect. Gloria (not her real name) had it all together. Cars were paid for, great gardener and philanthropist. She had money in the bank, retirement strategy, and her bills even paid themselves automatically online.


All seemed set, and then – unbeknownst to her – the bank issued her a new debit card for safety reasons. A utility bill for water and sewer bounced for the first time ever because the old card number that had been recorded online had expired.


Of course, the utility company had warned her by Email that the water would be summarily shut off without prompt payment (an Online offering with easy payment on the Net)...unfortunately for Gloria, the shut-off notice want to a spam folder and remained unread.


To get the water turned back on, it was but a simple fix; add in the new credit card number and make a payment; she went online and keyed her password to do so:


PASSWORD EXPIRED….was the response from her laptop.


The other passcode had been easy to remember, her first address backwards followed by the letter “B.”


Changing a password in the past had been easy...just sequentially change a letter or number.


The new instructions ruined all memory strategy in an instant:


·       You may not use any of your username as part of your code.


·       You must use at least eight characters in length.


·       You must incorporate at least one number and one letter.


·       One of the letters must be a capital, but not the first one.


·       If you don’t use a capital in places 2-8, then a symbol, such as: &,*,%,$,#, may be substituted, but not on a Thursday.


Simple enough, right?


Also, should you fail to key in the right code twice, the system will freeze for 45 minutes, and/or you will need to contact a supervisor to answer your security question.


What is your second ex-boyfriends Dad’s favorite hobby?


How long does it take to count to infinity?


What is the meaning of life?


Would you like to take a brief survey afterwards?


You know…


Unfortunately for Gloria, they asked her the boyfriend question, and there had just been too many.


Next step was to mail a reset request to the supervisor’s supervisor asking for a security waiver to reset passwords. The call finally came three days after the water had been shut off at the delinquent property.


The supervisor, in order to maintain security, asked Gloria the name of her favorite pet’s street address. She failed this one so miserably the passcode supervisor hung up in a huff.


Shortly thereafter, a man from the Health Department came to the doorstep to place notice on Gloria’s home that it must be evacuated, as it had no water for sanitation or bathroom usage.


By now, Gloria had had it with “civilization,” had decided to simply join and take up residence in a women’s shelter for digitally abused women. Of course, the registration process could not happen at home, as the house was no longer fit for occupation.


Simple enough, just use the public computer at the library, and get permission to stay.


After waiting for over an hour to get online at the library – waiting for some geeks to finish up study for their Microsoft Certification – it was finally her turn to register, and get on with life:


The computer then flashed: WELCOME. New users please create a new account, using at least eight digits…


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