Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cyborg Security

cyborg security

Right? You're happily chugging along, and with one fell swoop, you are cut out of the cloud.

And everyone you know has a badly written email about foreign bank accounts.

Reading about this article obviously took me back to when this very thing happened to me. It's such a weird phenomenon. One morning you wake up and you have a sort of digital-self-amnesia. You still know your old passwords of course -- why wouldn't you? You type them over and over again so many times. But they are no longer valid. So you have to make news ones, and the effort it takes to remember them has been, for me, excruciating.

I was not nearly as diligent as people ought to be when it comes to cycling passwords and keeping things difficult to guess. I had a few stock ones, and I'd used them since the very beginning of my online interest, in Middle School. I'd typed them so often I often forgot how they were spelled, forgot what words they were based on. The passwords were just muscle-memory, certain fingers moving to certain keys. They were that rhythm of sounds it made when I'd type them. If I'd miss-typed something I'd know from the sound alone. They were made before passwords needed to include numbers or above-the-number-key symbols, before password fields were case sensitive. A flurry of fingers, and I was on my merry way.

So now these conditions have been placed on my various passwords, "secret questions" have been provided so that I can retrieve my passwords if need be, and my surfing world is a lot more choppy, staggered and inhibited.

(As an aside: I have the greatest respect for those application which allow one to write their own security questions. My mother's maiden name? That's easy to look up. But a sentence that harkens back to an inside joke or refers to a real memory? Very, very few people will know the "real" answer to a question framed around something like that, and those people tend not to be the sorts of people who want to go after my online bank account.)

It's good I suppose, to be this careful, but it's also kind of a pain. I usually leave myself logged into to key sites that I use often, and when do have to eventually log back in there's lots of conscious effort and hard work where once there was but reflexive action. I still type my old passwords more often then not and then have to be sent to the "no, dummy" page to try again.

It's like having Alzheimer's. I'm suddenly very bad at remembering something that used to be as easy as breathing.