April 14, 2007

Homeland security

I don't yet know what to think of these new security measures in place on the financial sites I hit, e.g., banking and credit card, and on various other sites requiring a user name and password. Most of them now require you to select a super secret password with a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and Chinese characters. Then you have to type "Open Sesame" in three languages. The more frustrating part is the super secret security questions you have to answer. These sites allow you to choose from random questions that supposedly only you will know the answer to, such as:
What is your mother's maiden name?
What is your favorite restaurant?
What is your favorite music group?
What is your pet's name?
Where did you meet your spouse?
What kind of shampoo do you use?
Some of the questions don't apply to everyone, like people without mothers, people who don't eat, the pet-free, the deaf, the unmarried, the unhygienic - of course, those last two groups can be lumped together.

I find it hard to select a security question that even applies to me. My other beef with some of these questions is that they're too hard for me to answer. I can remember the answer to the mother's maiden name question, but I'm usually stuck on the rest of them. My favorites change weekly. I listen to "MyStation" on Yahoo! Music and think, "I once rated this song 'Can't get enough'? I hate this song! And Paul Anka is on my favorites list?!?"

What happens is that I get in an argument with myself that sounds like something from 'The Newlywed Game.' I imagine that all those couples that are on the show go home after it's over and fight about the answers they gave on the show. "I can't believe you said that your favorite food is pizza, when we both know it's steak!" Nag nag. So I say to myself, "There's no way you said that your favorite music group was Bread, when we both know that you own multiple Beatles posters." "I can't believe you don't remember what your favorite place to visit as a child was, either."

These security measures aren't keeping anyone but me from accessing my personal information. It's rather like some of the airport security measures which guarantee that no one will get past the security checkpoint with lipstick and volumizing gel. They also guarantee that your luggage will be rifled through, generally mussed up, and probably damaged in some way. Anyone with a credit card, bank account, or a roof over their head has probably already given away any semblance of privacy and secure personal information. I for one can't keep all the user names and passwords straight. That's why I had to make a Word doc called "Passwords" to save on my desktop. The rest of the passwords are written on sticky notes scattered around my home and office.

My folks' new laptop has one of those fingerprint-identifying scanners for Windows login. Having fingerprint identification on my laptop is the last place I need it. The computer never leaves my lap, and the odds of me sharing are slim. I am, however, holding out for a retina scan on my front door. The guys picking me up for a date would be prescreened for gorgeous eyes.

1 comment:

Jetton said...

This is the funniest thing I have read all day... except for the email I sent to you earlier, which was quite hilarious.

Storing the passwords in a Word.doc is quite ingenious, until your PC gets stolen or hacked. Maybe you should password protect your password files.

In the end it is about our safety, and about keeping the airlines free of over priced toiletries. Save a whale, Save the Planet, Save yourself, and while you are at it... Save 15% by switching to Geico.

P.S. - your scanner would say I have beautiful retinas.