1/08/2007

Guest writer

Today is Guest Writer day... actually, I don't have an article to post and this mail from a friend came apropos. She's talking about a previous article I wrote about Internet safety in general and passwords. I want to say on my behalf that the problem she has was her own fault. You're supposed to create a rule for your passwords AND REMEMBER IT!!!

Her mail was too long for a comment and too good to be dissmised, so I decided to post it here. The text was edited to suit the requirements of the "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act" wrote by republican senator (and "freedom lover") John McCain, who doesn't seem to be aware that there's a pesky First Amendment that clearly protects the freedom of speech. Anyway, I've censored an couple words just to keep her safe (and all of your children out there reading this blog). She's my friend and I don't want to turn her in to the feds (but I will if the alternative is to pay $300,000 :-O ).

So, without further a due, I give you the Guest Writer of the day, Alex

After reading your article on Are you safe? Are you sure? I became, like any normal person would, completely paranoid about the vulnerability of my virtual * posterior *ets. You were so right, everything was out there, open to any interested hacker. I've never been the victim of identity theft or any other online crime. But you know what they say . there's always a first time for everything, so I'd rather be safe than sorry!
Conscious of the importance and severity of the task ahead, I decided to break my procrastinating habits and do it right away. I had your suggestions, which I could completely follow (why not?), and internet access to all my accounts. What else did I need? Nothing! So I merrily went on my way, updating all my passwords My only personal contribution was to use the nicknames I have for the financial institutions instead of the real name, which usually goes on the address bar, therefore making it easy to guess. Also, for some account types I used 3 letters for the month and for some others the complete month name. Guess one, guess all, you know! I felt immediately gratified and proud of myself.
Hackers getting to my accounts? Not now, not ever, no way, Jose!
A couple of days later I realized that I also decided not to make any more payments online, so I had a few checks to mail (you can't pay in person here, you know). No problem: checks, envelopes and postage stamps. All set! Like I used to do in prehistoric times, I mailed the checks on Wednesday, knowing they would not reach its destination and post at least until Friday, when my paycheck posts to my account via direct deposit (should I stop that too? Hmmm!). Well, the post office seems to be more efficient now, and some vendors hungrier for money. One of my checks hit my account too early, on Thursday, and bounced for lack of funds. I used to have overdraft protection from my savings account, but I stopped that as a safety precaution. So, there I was, with a delinquent electricity bill and a $30 fee for the bounce. That's okay, I thought, I learned my lesson: don't wait until the deadline, and don't mail ahead of time, you sneaky * woman of dubious reputation *!
Then came the time to make my mortgage payment. To me, it's the most important one, it's the roof over your head. I checked my bank account, and there was enough money there to cover the payment, so I mailed it.
Only to find out that it bounced anyway. Why? Because a couple of the previously sent checks had not posted to my account by the time I checked, therefore inflating my available balance. Thank goodness, the mortgage company didn't really bounce it, they called me. I explained the situation to them, and they waited until Friday (good that I didn't cancel my direct deposit!). Life is good!
Then I went on vacation for a week, to a beautiful ranch in the middle of the desert, but with all the amenities of a 5 star hotel. I had a wonderful time, disconnected from every day routine activities, Oh, if it only lasted longer than a week! When I came back, I went online to check my finances. But I found a little problem there, did I call Bank of America BofA? Yes, I think I did. Well, it was really 6Of4 (I also
replaced all b's with 6). Now . what the hell was the rest of the password? Did I create it in m4rCh or aPri1? I tried them both, but none of them worked, probably I used something other than 6Of4. Tried 64nKoF4MeRiC4, but that didn't work either. Maybe I used the complete month name? After 3 wrong attempts, the bank blocked my account, so I had to wait until the next day to try it again, but at that point
clicking on 'forgot my password'. They sent it to me via email.
Another little problem I had was with one of the credit cards. Some crook opened my payment envelope and made a copy of the check before processing it. So, he had my checking account number, my credit card number (memo area of the check, as they instruct you to write it there), and my signature. I had to close that account because of fraudulent charges. The money was returned to my account after a while, but the headache was there.
Oh. My God! What a * performing of sexual intercourse * nightmare! I was so relieved when I woke up and realized it was just that, a very bad dream! Right there and then I made up my mind: stay with the good-old kiss principle that never failed me so far. I believe that people somehow manage to attract to them the things that happen in their lives. For instance, if you worry too much about losing your job, you're asking for it to happen. Makes sense?
Maybe not, but my experience shows me it's true. As far as security, many web sites require more and more intricate passwords, more digits, combinations of characters, etc. Hackers are aware of it, and they will probably try complex combinations instead of a simple and stupid one.
I'll keep my simple and stupid
Thank you for all your valuable advice. Seriously, I mean it. From now on, I will always look at the address bar.

1 comment:

Barry Mahfood said...

Some folks can't find a middle ground. It's either very weak passwords or losing passwords. I've got a friend who's asked me if I remembered what her password was. Sigh.

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