Passwords provide security and frustration

Published 9:06 am Monday, October 4, 2010

Julie Seedorf, Something About Nothing

Snicklefritz! Snicklefritz! My arms let loose of my young grandson that I held in my arms when I heard those words. That is the secret word or password that I taught him last year while we were playing. If I have him cornered and won’t let him go he has to use the secret word. He has a great memory for passwords because he is 3 and has a sharp mind.

Julie Seedorf

I am 60, and my mind is as sharp as a butter knife. I never can remember any of my passwords to anything. Of course, that could be because I have so many passwords that I could travel miles of roads with doors on each side of the road. I could visit each door in those miles of roads and use a different password at every door to get into the secret kingdom.

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We live in a world where passwords have become very important. We need a password for our e-mail, our bank, our credit cards, website accounts, our cell phone company and sometimes our computers. Maybe we even need a password to our mind to unlock everything that we can’t remember.

Not only do we have to remember passwords we have to remember pictures. On some sites we have to remember if the picture they are showing us is the right picture. We also have to make sure the name on the picture is correct. Occasionally they are going to throw in a trick question such as, “Who is the first person that stole your lollipop as a child?”

Who knew that the fun game of secret words and passwords that we needed to use to enter the clubhouse in our youth would be something we would have to use every single day of our lives.

I recently visited a website to pay a bill. I had not used this site in almost a year. Of course, the website changed, and it was not easy task to find where I needed to pay my bill. I think they wanted me to shop first so I had a bigger bill. Finally, I found the place to log in. I logged in with what I thought my username and password were. And then the questions started. “Who was your favorite movie star?”

Everyone knows that the only star I have been swooning about for years is Robert Redford. So I typed in Robert Redford. Of course it wasn’t right. Had I tried to be tricky? Again I typed in robert redford without the capital letters. Still, my entrance into this reverent site was denied.

OK, I would try it one last time. So I typed in robertredford with no spaces. The lock got tighter and I was forever locked out until I could contact the company and they would deem me worthy to enter. Four days later I was able to pay my bill.

I am paranoid about passwords. I do not have the same password for any account or site. I don’t use common names of friends and family. I don’t use passwords I can remember. These companies issue us passwords for a reason. These companies are trying to keep our information safe as much as they can in our information-sharing world.

Microsoft suggests using these tips for creating a strong password:

A good password has letters, punctuation, symbols and numbers. Use a variety of both and use the whole keyboard not just those numbers and letters you are used to using.

Make your passwords long and complex.

If you have trouble remembering your passwords, write them down and put them in a safe place that only you can access. Never send your password in an e-mail or in a response to an e-mail that you get from someone else. Phishing scams are rampant on the Internet.

Do not use a password on another computer or a public computer that you do not control. There is key logging software that can be put on these computers that can gather information especially passwords.

Never give your password to anyone including family members, and if you have to share that password in an emergency, change it after the emergency is over.

Never keep passwords on your computer. If someone hacks into your computer, that is the first thing they will look for.

Use different passwords for different websites.

Passwords cause me stress because I can’t remember them. Life was much easier when we could call someone, tell them who we were and get our information without trying to remember our password and what our secret answers are. What used to be a fun game as a kid has become a pain in the neck.

I look at my grandson and see how much fun he has with our secret password. I wonder how much fun he will think secret passwords are when he is old enough to enter the covert world of passwords.

I will leave you with a little secret information. I never use Snicklefritz for a password.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at Her blog is Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”