Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rude Awakening

         I’ll admit I wasn’t at my best this morning when I stumbled downstairs to check my email.  We have an epic three-day drive to Florida on the horizon and unlike my usual night of at least 7 hours of sleep, I woke up at 3:30, 4:30, and then gave up at 6.

          I made a cup of tea and settled into my comfy computer chair. I clicked on the icon for my Gmail and was told:

 No – that password wouldn’t work.

Would I like to fix it through a message to my Yahoo email?

Nope – that password wasn’t recognized

I checked my email by way of my phone. A recovery code was indeed on my Yahoo account.

I tried to enter it into the Gmail request. No soap.

Not good.

I checked my email through my phone again. Now a different recovery code had been sent. Someone else was trying to get into my mail.

Why anyone would have a burning need to open sales reminders from L.L.Bean, Lands End, Kohls, and all the other messages I delete three times a day is beyond me. My email is resoundingly dull. Still, the whole thing creeped me out big time.

I packed up my violated laptop and hightailed it to our computer geeks. I arrived ten minutes before business hours, but if people are going to put an Open sign on their door, I’m going in. 

One of the owners immediately took me in hand (I’m sure my hyperventilating had nothing to do with that) and began walking me through my passwords, all of which apparently were too short and too obvious. She didn’t quite roll her eyes and sigh audibly, but “another dumb civilian” might as well have been Magic Markered across her forehead.

After facing the spectre of no access to either email or this blog, I have seen the light. Check your passwords, folks. There are computers out there right now twirling and beeping away in their efforts to get into our accounts. 

Go to How Secure is My Password? and you’ll become a convert. Passwords I thought were ingenious and inscrutable were basically the work of a not very bright pre-schooler.

As for me, I now have some fabulous passwords that supposedly will hold up against attack for thousands of years. Since there’s no way on the planet that I’ll remember any of them, I’ve cleverly written them down in a list that I keep near my computer. 
Don’t tell me I don’t know anything about security.


  1. Wow, this really makes me think I need to rethink the passwords I use. They are all variations of something that is easy for me to remember.

    Our lives have improved immeasurably from the latest technology. But at the same time, we have to worry about stolen identities, someone hacking our email or bank accounts...

    A couple of years ago someone used my social security number to open up an account with the IRS. I found out only because the IRS sent a snail-mail letter to confirm the opening of the account. I called right away, and they canceled the account for me. The woman I spoke to from the IRS said that your SS number is vulnerable because it is used often in our medical records. Yikes! The attempt to open an account with the IRS using my SS number was likely someone trying to fraudulently apply for a tax refund using my number!

    Love your blog. Great post!

    1. What I don't understand is the admonition to carry my SS card with me now that I'm on Medicare. Up until now, the rule was NEVER carry your SS card.
      And like you, there I am handing it out in doctor's offices. It makes no sense!

  2. I have to access government web sites at work, and as they involve money, the Feds are real picky. We now are up to changing passwords every 120 days, and no matter how it is disguised, they recognize anything that resembles a word. In desperation I found a password generator, and it does turn out some doozies.

  3. Hackers are not interested in your spam folder but in using your e-mail address for their criminal activities. Something similar happened to me a couple of years ago and since then I have been extra cautious.

    Greetings from London.

    1. Hi there, London!
      Yes, nothing like a wake-up call to give you religion.

  4. I have weird passwords that I change from time to time. I do have them written down, but not in a way that makes sense to anyone but me. I don't carry my SS card anywhere, it lives in our safe deposit box.

    1. I agree. I think my SS card is going to live in a similar spot.

  5. Your email may be resoundingly dull, as is mine, but that isn't what the hackers are after. They want to access all your contacts and spread spam. There are people on the internet now that are still getting an occasional spam email from when my account was hacked last year.
    I'll check that site about secure emails, see how secure I am here.

  6. okay. My most commonly used password would take 5 seconds for a computer to work out, my next common would take 6 years, my least commonly used password would take 837 thousand years to hack. 837 THOUSAND YEARS!
    I'll be changing passwords within a week.

  7. Thanks for the information! I'm sorry you got hacked, but you might have saved several of your followers from the same fate. :-)

  8. according to the link, it would take 41 years to work mine out. I'll be 106 by then.

  9. So sorry you got hacked and hope you are safe now. It is a scary world we live in.

  10. Hilarious. I did update a few of my most important passwords recently as my former employer had been hack with my personnel records. But thus far I see no problems. We are all just one hacker away though.


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