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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Revenge on the Hacker Nerds

Like most kids, I was absolutely enthralled by the adventures from the collection of "One Thousand and One Nights".

"Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp" and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor" were among my favorites.

As a young adolescent, I loved the innovative and rich poetry and poetic speeches, chants, songs, lamentations, hymns, beseeching, praising, pleading, riddles and annotations provided by the Persian Princess, Scheherazade, or her story characters.

My elementary school friends and I used to dress up in our mother's shawls and scarfs and towels and giggle with delight as we flung open our arms in front of our Magic Cave - constructed out of a large cardboard box we pilfered from behind Mr. Mendoza's 'Discount Furniture Warehouse' on Brayton Avenue - and shouted "Open Sez Me!"

These days, I'm enthralled but not so delighted by the magic of the internet which also promises to open the secret treasures of knowledge of the universe at the click of a mouse or wave of a finger over the pad at the bottom of my laptop.

That one needs a password to gain entry into the "Information Superhighway" only serves to intensify the allure of the mystery and magic of technology.

Until, that is, one gets one's account 'hijacked' because a 'hacker' has figured out the magic of your password.

That seems to happen most frequently on FaceBook.

It hasn't happened for me in a while, thanks be to God, but for a time it seemed as if every other day I was needing to change my password.

The other day, I logged into FaceBook and had to use my password. No problem, right?

Except, I've changed it so often, and it's different from the ones I use for my online banking, cell phone, blog, google and yahoo group listservs that I couldn't remember it.

I ended up having to change it - AGAIN! - and slowly began to realize what an exercise in aggravation this whole internet experience has become.

Oh, I follow all the advice given by the 'experts' whom I am absolutely convinced are the nerdy boys in the sixth grade - the ones who wore white socks and argyle vests and thick black glasses and were always the ones with their hands up when teacher called and always had the right answer - who never got any of the class beauties to give them the time of day much less a smile.

Revenge of the nerds is no joke. We are living it now, people, and the stuff about passwords is just their way of having fun with us.

It's the Battle of the Nerds - the good guys ("experts") and the bad guys ("hackers"). Looks to me like the hackers are giving the experts a real run for their money.

Here's some "expert" advice about passwords:
+ Try to general avoid dictionary words, proper nouns, or foreign words. Detection software has been created to hack these types of passwords most easily. If you thought it would be clever to spell your favorite word backwards or simply tack numbers onto the end, you’re wrong; these types of tricks are also detectable.

+ Never use personal information. While it may be easier to remember dates of birth, pet names and the city you were born, it’s not a good idea. Skip addresses and phone numbers as well.

+ Make sure your password is different than you account/user name. This may seem obvious, but many people use similar passwords because they are easier to remember.

+ Unfortunately, a strong password requires some level of complexity. The longer the password, the more difficult it is to crack.We generally recommend creating passwords between 6 and 9 characters. Don’t forget to use uppercase and lowercase, numbers, and even symbols throughout the password.

+ The most obvious tip – make sure it’s not easily guessable. For example, try ‘ImuKat!’ instead of Imacat.

+ Avoid using the same password on multiple accounts. In the event that you get hacked (think Sony PlayStation Network a couple weeks ago), the hacker should not be able to access all of your accounts.

+ Never give away your password. If you need to grant someone temporary access to an account, change your password first so that you are able to change it back once they get what they needed.
Mind you, these are the same boyz who gave us these rules in the beginning. You know. When we were being told just how easy it was to use the internet.

Now that we're all hooked and have invested thousands of dollars in computers and lap tops, smart phones and iPads and Kindles, and pay all our bills on line, transfer our meager amounts of money from savings to checking accounts and order last minute flowers for a friend's birthday, it turns out nothing is easy and everything comes with a cost of some sort.

I have devised my own little plane I like to call "Revenge on the Hackers".  I think it would be fun to put in a little hidden meaning in the password. 
 I'm tempted to use something like:
it's long, funny and has one of my previous zip code interspersed with the word NERD.

Or,  how about:


- which is the birth date of my first born interspersed with the text message form for "You are a Jerk".

I'm sort of partial to:


- which is my father's birth date and various symbols interspersed with the message "Eat Crap and Die".

I would use the more vulgar form of the expression but I'm only willing to stoop so low.

I won't use any of these, of course, because I've got everything all set up now and memorized, with  different passwords for each of my many and various accounts, and I'm not changing it again. 

At least, not until the next time FaceBook won't let me access my own damn account because I logged on from my iPhone and they got all confused - even though they have my cell phone number - so I have to make up another password again.

At that point in time, my best advice is that you wrap all the fine crystal and china in bubble wrap,  shelter your babies and run for cover.

The Revenge on the Hacker Nerds is not going to be pretty.

Sinbad the Sailor ain't got nothing on me.


Brother David said...

Another idea is to come up with a phrase that you can easily remember and use the first letter of each word along with changing common words such as to and for to their number equivalents 2 and 4.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Great idea, Br. David. I guess I'm really wicked. I like the idea of a "hidden message" for the hackers. Maybe that could be done numerically.

I will not be using the text message: "143" = I love you.

PseudoPiskie said...

On a Mac you can go to the utility Keychain and find many of your passwords. Changing is good tho. And complicated ones like those you list are very hard to obtain which sort of limits the enjoyment for you.

Anonymous said...