With all the fuss at the end of Ronald Rump’s reign in ‘Murica, nothing was more exciting than the prospect of having someone in the Whitey House more devoted to comedy than the safety of the country. In fact, it caused me to wonder if the PREZ has to have a password to access ‘the codes’ before instigating nuclear Armageddon. I’m hoping the answer to this question is ‘yes’. I, for one, am not keen on nuclear annihilation and, if there’s a sure-fire way to prevent such a thing, it lays with having ‘the codes’ password protected.
I’ve mentioned before that I was born in the Cretaceous period, long before the invention of the world-wide-web. I mention this only because the exalted elected one, the PREZ of ‘Murica is almost always, like me, an old geezer. The safety of the planet is therefore better protected with a password because, like me, such things stymie most old geezers.
Every time I join anything on the net, from shopping sites to operating systems, I am required to come up with a user name and password. When I first starting using a computer, this was relatively easy – I always used the same user name and the password only required any four letters or digits. I could happily use exactly the same password on every site – easy to remember. Then cyber criminals ramped up their efforts and, since then, it’s been a race to see who can stay ahead – the hackers or the computer security designers with requirements for passwords that include a combination of 45,000 upper case letters, lower case letter, numbers, symbols and the secret recipe to Aunt Jemima’s pancakes.
Use the same password for every site? Are you mad? At least that’s the message now. In fact many sites require passwords that must meet a rigid set of requirements. It is guaranteed if one site has their set of requirements, it will be different than every other site – ensuring that all the passwords will be different. Some sites require a change of password every few months. The result is a huge collection of passwords and finding one that works would stump Alan Turing… you remember – the guy who broke the German ‘enigma’ code in WWII.
How does one keep track of all these passwords? I can’t store them all in my head – it’s too full of squashed flies. I could write them down but then I might lose the paper or have it stolen. I could place them in a super secure place for storage, but then I wouldn’t be able to access it, as I’d forget where it was. Even if I found the list, would I end up glancing down the list with a niggling memory – didn’t I have to change this password last month or was this the one I used the unusual ID name and was confident that I’d remember… whatever it was? Hmmm.
And, from what I can see, that’s only the beginning. I wait with trepidation for the day when every electronic device I buy requires a password before it will operate. I’ll buy a new toaster – study the manual for a month before I work up the knowledge base required to scorch the bread to exactly the right shade of black. It will require an intimate knowledge of time warp theories, quantum mechanics and Aunt Jemima’s secret pancake recipe. When all this information is memorized and at my fingertips, I will approach the toaster with two slices of bread. I’ll place them in the slots and push a button to lower the toast into the baking chambers. It won’t work. Instead I’ll get a message: “PLEASE ENTER YOUR PERSONAL ID AND PASSWORD”…. I’ll fumble and enter my name with my usual password – my maiden aunt’s fourth youngest uncle’s middle name. The toaster will respond with an extended period of canned laughter and flash a message on a screen that reads: “THE PASSWORD YOU ENTERED DOES NOT MATCH THE ID PROVIDED – YOU WILL HAVE TWO MORE TRIES BEFORE I, MACHINE INCOMPARABLE, WILL TOAST YOU INSTEAD OF THE BREAD”.
You see what I mean about the nuclear ‘codes’. I can picture it now:
“Mr. PREZ, are you sure you want to activate the missiles and destroy the Earth?”
“Absolutely – those morons think they can get rid of me by counting votes??? I’ll show them!”
“Very good, Mr. PREZ. What is your user ID?”
“Yes, Mr. PREZ. Do you have an ID you usually use?”
“Yes, of course – I remember! I always use: ‘Who’s the best PREZ ever??_ME!!!’
“Let me confirm Mr. PREZ – that’s with 6 capital letters, 2 question marks, one underscore and 3 exclamation marks? Very good, Mr. PREZ, I’m typing that in. Now, just give me the password for the codes and it’s goodbye planet.”
“Yes Mr. PREZ, the password.”
“Was I given a password?”
“No Mr. PREZ, you had to set your own password just after your inauguration.”
“But I was busy that day… there was a ball… I had to spend hours getting my hair the proper shade of orange… how am I supposed to remember some stupid password?”
“Did you write it down?”
“Maybe… If so it might be in the safe… Let me check… Damn! I can’t seem to remember the combination.”
Yes, indeed, the planet is MUCH safer if there’s a password!