Monday, September 12, 2005

Password travails

My travails with passwords started when I registered for my very first Yahoo Mail ID. I wanted to use my given name as the Username but apparently there were many people by the same name. After trying various combinations without success I finally hit upon ‘masaladosa’. After chewing on ‘masaladosa’ for a while the registration window spat it right out, informing me that it was already taken. However like the waiters at Shanthi Saagar, Yahoo too gave me an option.... ‘‘masaladosa700’ was available!!! With a sigh, I accepted the proffered name and it got adopted. Apparently the 700 is some sort of cyber chutney taken with ‘masaladosa’.

I selected a simple but cool password ‘chick’ so that I will have no problem remembering it. But apparently five letter words are as inappropriate in Cyberspace as three letter words are in the civilized world and it was outrightly rejected. I was tersely asked to choose a password with six or more characters. Thinking frantically as my Rs. 60 an hour Internet time was coming to a close, I added the word ‘hot’ to ‘chick’. I think the Cyber Moral Police was suitably mollified and ‘hotchick’ became my very first email password. (Cyber morals beats me)

After the Registration, a message appeared advising me to change my password often to protect my acccount. Now back in High School my mail box would typically get 10 odd mails a day. Mostly jokes forwarded by friends, some gossip from friends, lotsa news on who is seeing whom and who is broken off with whom and who is going steady with whom kinda mails. Ok that’s a lot of gossip I know, but High School gals generally don’t talk about The Green House Effect, The NYSE Index and or the General elections. I didn’t think it necessary to change my password often as no hacker could get my Dad’s Credit card numbers or India’s nuclear installations blueprints from my mailbox flooded with mails with subjects like these:

· I think I have a pimple :(
· Raveena is a bitch!!!
· Guess who Rita is dating ;)
· Pictures of George Cloony ;)
· Shoppers Stop Red Tag sale is on :))
· Check out the new chemistry teacher wotta babe ;)
· Friday bunk classes go for Stuart Little ?

Those days we shared passwords so that friends could read each others mails.

Then one day the inevitable happened!!! The greatest and most shameful act of Internet misuse by a school kid happened!!! A friend SP used another friend MD’s mailbox to do some match making. SP wrote a real mushy love-mail from MD’s mail box to a guy in St. Joseph’s. When we heard about it we were gleeful, fearful and tearful in that order with the resultant turn of events. After that incident we collectively decided ‘not’ to share passwords and each of us went our separate mailbox ways. We grew up a little in Cyber Space that summer.

Now to my travails. I have always had problems with passwords. I have always wanted something simple that I could remember plus I had a mortal dread of alphanumeric passwords. Especially since I had so many Yahoo ID’s like ‘vadasambar’, ‘chapathi99’, 'revlonlipstick’ etc in those carefree days. The only alphanumeric password I could remember was my birthdate… a dead giveaway ( I know that by experience because we used to try and open each others mail boxes with birth dates, parent’s anniversary dates, BF/GF birthdates etc.) It was also very easy to guess each other’s passwords. Let’s face it. High School kids are not very original when it comes to passwords. A sample of password sources in High School is given below

1. Your dogs name
2. School House name
3. School name
4. Class teachers name
5. Favorite movie
6. Favorite Toon star
7. Favorite Rock/Pop/Blues/Jazz star (for fans)
8. Boyfriend / Girlfriend’s name (if you had one) etc

Nowadays I have heard that school kids have become more innovative and keep complex alphanumeric passwords like:

1. jimmy22
2. greenhouseisno1
3. baldwinssucksbigtime100
4. ihatesistermary / ihatefatherjohn / ihateprinci
5. collateralisno1
6. tomandjerry2005
7. avrillavignerocks
8. rameshisahunk4me / priyaisadoll2…… etc.

As a ‘complex password challenged’ person I have finally hit upon a solution. When I sit down at my comp to change my password, I look around carefully and take inspiration from my immediate environment. Some of the thus inspired passwords are given below as an example.

1. hpprinter
2. servostabilizer
3. Samsungfaxcumprinter
4. yellowpages
5. ibmthinkpad
6. creativewebcam
7. ajanthaclock
8. crocintablets
9. seagateharddisk( I still have the cover)
10. brandy ( my dog if he sitting as usual under my chair)
11. lakshmi ( my maid, if at that precise moment she is cleaning my room) etc.

I know I know…..originality is not my middle name. But now I am in the big league of ‘complex password’ churning geeks ;)


Domesticated Bachelor said...

i have a friend who has an email id - wastebasket420. and some stories he has about the various interviews he has had to attend.

Praveen said...

For me, setting up a password is really a herculean task, I take ages to think of an ideal password. It particularly irks me when I have to think of a new password every 2-3 months and one that hasnt been used before :)

The elderly camel said...

You have touched a raw nerve here. Thinking of a new passowrd can be quite frustrating, esp at work as the password rules at our place are quite annoying - can't repeat a part of the previous 12 passwords, mix of cap letters, numbers a must and what not. And we are forced to change it ever so often. Nice name for your dog...what breed?

crossblade said...

lol password sharing I still do it with two of my best friends on in hyd and other is in

we dont misuse though ..he he and its good to read about their love lives and for them to read my stupid hard life with studies and the my flirts with girls lol

Geo said...

That part about high-school-girls-email-content was getting hot. Sad u cut it short so soon. I suggest u dedicate an exclusive post for the same :_D

Jiby said...

haha...reading abt the internet misuse part i did exactly that...matchmaking! had a bud who made fun of all of us with the gals in the class after we poured out our feelings after a drinking session, that we cudnt walk abt without feeling red-faced...finally my pals delegated me to send him a perfectly worded loveletter from one of our clasmates, so that we had some ammo to fire back at him...wht better way than to create an email-id with her make a long story short...they fell in love...and the twist in the tale wuz i had to break them up too!

great post...that all of us net-junkies cud relate with...most of my username troubles came from my dad who always seemed to be a step ahead as we shared same initials and almost the same name!

chupru said...

Corporate P-words have to be changed every month.
1. Cannot use past 5 passwords.
2. Need to be 6+ characters long but shorter than 9 characters.
3. Should contain lower characters.
4. Should contain alphanumeric characters, but not more than 3.
5.Recursive alphanumeric cannot be used.
5. Should not contain any personal data.
6. Oh, and you should remember it.

SNM said...

I have just one password for all my email ids. And I haven't changed it for a long time, too.But my office network demands a change in password every 45 days :( The mental agony that I go through on that 45th day, the pressure to find a new password that HAS TO BE a combination of letters,numerals and special characters, cannot be put down in words!

Jake said...

damn, like geo said, why did cut short that high school girls email ?

you know, all for the sake of science and statistics ...

Sushil said...

Let me add my pet password peeve at work . I have to change my password every month as well. I get a popup stating that my password will expire within 15 days asking if I want to change it now ! And if I do change it, I will be reminded again in 15 days ! Aaarrgggg !

hope and love said...

i just look out of my window and use the name of the first thing i see as my password.. or open a book and uses the first word i read

Jagan said...

he he ..all of paswords has got to do something with my crush(es) ..i still use them ..mes still a kid i guess .

J said...

lol. Well, this post proves that originality is your middle name :)

Anonymous said...

Lol!!this was a real hilarious one and as someone said; it touched a raw nerve. Well i have the most unique name-surname combo tht i dont ever have a pbm getting an id in myname i want!

But with passwords..this might seem to be out of XFILES.....i have a password jinx!! I mean wotever i put as a password turns unlucky (not just for me).Started frm the time i put the name of then love of my life as password. Within a month she eloped with a classmate. Later i was hoping to win a prestigious quiz and to remind and inspire myself i put it as the password.... And did not even cross the elims of the quiz.As i had not noticed the trend yet; i stupidly used the name of a gal in office with whom i was getting quite "friendly" with. She reunited wth her big Moose-like-ex-boyfriend within a week! Then a fave tennis player..his career ended within a few months.
Scary, eh???So choosing passwords very carefully nowadays. Prefer absolutely unrelated mumbojumbo passwords only !

("mumbojumbo!!" now thts a good password; how can tht turn unlucky?)

btw :Is Brandy really the name of ur dog? or was it a grape-derivative in a bottle with may be a Honey bee on the label


Anonymous said...

@joker:wastebasket420!? Cool now why didnt I think of that!
@praveen:Even Hercules will find this task Herculean :(
@theelderlycamel:Brandy is a Golden Retriever and yes its her color that got her the name :)
@crossblades: Wish me and friends could share passwords but I dont see that happening;)
@Geo and Jake:You guys took off on a tangent on Para 4. Please come back to mother earth. And Geo , NO I dont think I will write about that exclusively. Dont wanna get booted out of blogdom ;)
@Jiby: What you said rings a thousand bells. Making new IDs and sending our mails from those IDs was a fun pastime those days :))

Anonymous said...

@anoop:What a painful list brrr Guess 'Sukha Chikithsa' is finally over!!
@snm and Sushil: The pressure of finding new password is my nightmare too and the same rules apply in my office too.
@hopeandlove:You are like me :))
@Jagan:Yeah crushes too were part of our passwords during school days.
@J: Thank you ! :)
@flaash:Now I know whom to contact when I need to put a curse on someone hehe :))

Anonymous said...

being the first person whom my friends turn to for breaking other peoples passwords, let me give you some insight.

1. The weakest link in the whole system is email providers who reset your password on aswering the secret question without sending a verification mail to the actual email address... rediff used to be a culbrit in this...

2. Never use words in the dictionary... this is called brute force hacking.. I would generally attack the server with all the words in the dicionary to see if it matches.

3. Permutated dictionary attack: I would feed a few of the usable words and numbers like d.o.b, tele no, year of birth and few other words, these would be mixed and matched with the words in the dictionary.

and to think I am doing a Phd in management.. I should ve been a tech guy.. I guess its the guilt of not picking up I.T thats keeping me doing all this... so your next passowrd should have atleast 6 characters, 3 numbers and one ascii character (ascii scharacter can be gotten when you press alt and another number simultanously).. I have never been able to break a password with an ascii character in it...

asliarun said...

A little trick that i use for passwords is to use the English spelling for a word in your local language. Think of your favourite food, nickname of your friend/relative, or even a childhood phrase in your native language; and make it your English password. This is way easier to remember than a cryptic password, and much more difficult for others to crack as well. If you want to add a number to your password, try adding the number/section of your favourite class in school.

Oh, and by the way, great post! Especially the sambhar and chutney bit :-)

Matter of Choice said...

In school we all had a unique 4 digit roll no, which substituted for our name for 7 long years (yeah..thats like a jail!). the other day me n my school classmates were having a drink and somehow the conversaton veered to the use of our roll no's now. It seems even now more than half of the guys use their roll no's for their ATM passwords. I am smarter..i use my friends roll no :))

this blog is so true that i can imagine sys administrators of all IT companies getting a fwd of this blog. Mebbe they are gonna come after you for foisting the "anti-security" revolution on them!.

and ofcourse as usual you have your funny take on a situation which really annoys almost everyone. how true u were when u said "I can’t take life too seriously ( I look at the funny side of every thing!!"

please never ever start taking life too seriously. it will be a great loss to humanity (and i am serious!)


SNM said...

Long passwords were my craze once. Having learned typing when I was in school, I could claim pretty decent typing speeds. Those days, my passwords were straight out of the books that I had read. 'Consiglieri', I guess, was the password that ran for the longest interval.
One day my roomie wanted to take a file from my a/c and asked me for the password. When I told him that, he replied with a horrified face: "OH NO, thanks! You mail it to me whenever you login!" .The password then was "KomitetGosudarstvennoyBezopasnosti".

Sujith said...

in our office we had this rule of changing the pwd every quarter. and also they didnt allow us to use historical pwds. and it was a pain to come up with innovative stuff. summerof69, callme@5102, geek@work were a few of my passwords :-)

Dr. Pissed said...

Oh man, I know how it feels not to have a cool password, trust me.

Moreover, it can be such a piss off when someone checks your mail! Pfft!

Pradeep Nair said...

Some of the best, or rather most common, passwords (I don't know who discovered this or how)... I am told, are juicy or crude unprintables. Left best to our fertile imagination, they are better not written here, or used only as a password, like: **************.

Geo said...

@Silverine: Abt coming back to the mother ship....
Don’t always stay put in the mother ship. Wander in a Nebuchadnezzar. You might get to meet a Neo who might change your world.

-Poison- said...

was too busy to comment the 1st time i read the post.

coming to passwords, i have had lotsa fun crackin school maetes passwords n stuff. boy, its a realy funny thing.

my 1st passwrd was pretty complex tho-

dono y i liked it so much...i once 4 got it n had a hard time cos i forgot the answer to the passwd lost qn. :p

the last time i raised hell was wen a friend accessed his mail from my mobile an forgot to log out. i send him a mail from hi id with a msg like this -

ur passwords been looted creep. pay me 100 bucks asap. will reveal drop point in next mail.

poor guy was so scared n changed passwd into max letter no. alfanumeric code. AND was abt to lodge a police complaint b4 he talked me abt the "black" mailer...whew :D

crossblade said...

yea wht u said back there is absoulely true :)

Sreekesh Menon said...

ah those little growing pains, you express them with such care.

Jake said...

growing pains ? LOL. wat setting a password is now a growing pain ?

Goan Pao said...

i thank my school unix system for solving my password issues...they provided me with an alphanumeric pwd...and i use a combination of that pwd as my password everywhere....gosh i hate accounts especially where one has to change pwds every 3months...that sucks...thats why I like the IBM thinkpad..biometrics..thats the pwd remembering....

Riot said...

A real funny post. Here is an interesting poster I came across

If you are familiar with Dilbert's new ruling class, here is one that is quite apt

Chief Secretary of Computer Security, Torture, and the Infinitely Complex Password

Anonymous said...

I can imagine this one all right. For someone who has been watching the internet explode and who is a manic compulsive crypto password generator, I hv watched in exasperation at how my sis uses 'helloworld' kind of passwords! :(

Way to go lady.. keep at it.. someday, u will achieve perfect security :)

ps: As an aside.. what is the world coming to! Harrison Ford in the same pedestal with Emran puckerlips Hashmi! No wonder, gals lose me and I lose them!!! *sigh*

Anonymous said...

@geo i never knew if silverine is that right Silverine ?...that one is nice post...hehe vadasambar as yahoo id is bit out of world for me ;;)


Leon said...

The best part about having a Christian and an Indian name is that the combination is always available.. :D. I have never had any problems getting leon_nirmal or leon.nirmal for a username.

PS: Have you changed your blogger password yet? :p

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

one doubt : after setting the password .. how do u rem if it was lakshmi or masala dosa ???

Domesticated Bachelor said...

do you manage to keep track of your passwords? *GRIN*

Sonia said...

i had a relatively simple password in the beginning. so1nia2. see?alphanumeric! but simple to break!

but when i started working, there were so many damn security procedures! we had about 8 different applications and we could not use the same password for any of them. we also had to keep changing the passwords every fortnight! it was crazy! but now my password on yahoo even, is tough as hell!

Anonymous said...

@sonia: that's very promising...looks like i can give u the supari to boot the devil.

Jagan said...

busy again with work ah ? or breaking about a new password .

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

ur answer still doesnt answer my qn ....

My qn is the same as denselmayor's .....

after setting it , imagine Lakshmi isnt around .... then , how do u rem if itz her on ur password tab or a crisp masala dosa there ?????

Naresh Krishnan said...

Reminded of a time when the internet was virgin territory, and the thoroughbreds among us decided it'd be just right to be addressed as 'hot' so-and-so @. Until the above salutation had to be announced on the top right-hand corner of the CV. It's kind of painful picturing VP-Manufacturing replying to an email from "cuteguy2000", with CV attached.
Akin to flaash and his "latest-love-as-suffix", it does happen that we are left holding the remnants of an earlier "fix". Not unlike ATM passwords; class numbers, mine and hers. Yeah. She's gone, so what, I still got her number. Sigh.

J said...

Now shall i try hacking ur password? :-p

Expert Reviewer said...

Lol.. first time here.. nice one.. :)

Anonymous said...

lol..That was funny...howlarious....hmm...Crocintablet for a that has got to be wackily original!!

scorpigle said...

The dilemma is hightened by the no. of accounts/email ids u maintain.. good that u do not have corprate policies governing hotmail/rediffmail et al to change passwds every 90 days or so.

I was going to post on the same topic.. but droppped mine after seeing urs.. u did more justice to it. The high school angle was awesome.

Anonymous said...

I finally comment on your blog!

So still having trouble with passwords? Despite your feigned frustrations you always managed to come up with unimaginable passwords like 'colgate toothpaste' remember?

Keep writing anju...I enjoy reading your posts.


Woodooz said...

Well the most popular password when I was in college was "LALAPALOOSA"... Considering it was so popular, none of us used it though !!! lol !!!

For now, my password for all my accounts when i type is *********. Now would that come under the complex creative password category ?

Geo said...

Onam Ashamsakal

ada-paavi!!!! said...

my first id was sm_ducati, and the passowrd was fairly simple, the alpha numeric model of a ducati bike! easy to remember and yet hard to craxk

Adaengappa !! said...

Adengappa !!

Ivalo mattera ?? Password gnabagam vachukarathu miga perum velai..Aint so ??

Domesticated Bachelor said...

Yoo HOO?

Domesticated Bachelor said...

happy onam btw*HUGS*

Sujith said...

Happy Onam!!

Safari Al said...

yeah...the perenial password problems.

here is a nice easy way, try using sms lanuage and flight schedules and swear words in foreign lanuages. works brilliantly....specially the swear words.

josh said... :-)

zimblymallu said...

lol. you know what cracks me up. the amount of advice you get on coming up with passwords.

A Chrysanthemum by any other name... said...

lol. well i think ive solved the problem. Use a totally random, alphanumeric password. Ture, you have to invest the one time energy to remember it, but then use it for everthing, never change it. Never give it out either!

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...


Domesticated Bachelor said...

yoo hoo.. wheres the new post?

Anonymous said...

hehe Zimbly Mallu, that's a good one...btw as the days pass by, the comments keep on lapping up like the tower of hanoi...where is the monk? ...


P.S. : I Hate practicing "ABCD" before I post my comments :-((

Anonymous said...

Hmm... Thats one herculean task.. That too after starting to work, I have had the problem of remembering atleast 23 passwords at any given time.. Now a days, all my passwords have names or incidences or phrases from Greek and Roman history. The number part remains the same all the while. It is the reg number of my gf in college!!

silverine said...

@LD: Why are you anonymous? Blog kahan gaya lol?
@Anonymous:It's amazing the things people use to make passwords!!