Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Brief History of the Computer Password

If I had to guess, I'd say America is on No. 12. 

1.      Information technology (IT) professionals develop technology to allow for user-specific password protection of computer systems. Era of computer vulnerability declared "over."

2.      Users develop delusional sense of self-importance; 100 percent select "password" as their new password, citing the "Hide in Plain Sight" doctrine.

3.      Hackers begin hacking computers they would never have been interested in if it weren't for the sudden forbidden-fruititude of a password-protected computer system.

4.      IT professionals encourage users to use more complex passwords. 

5.      96 percent of users change password to "password1". Remaining four percent continue to use "password". 

6.      IT professionals demand, nay, REQUIRE users to use more complex passwords. 

7.      Users totally ignore IT professionals because "no one will ever guess my password is my last name …. BACKWARDS, YO!"

8.      IT professionals lose their sh*t, start requiring "an upper-case letter, a lower-case letter, a god-damn numeral, and a f*cking non-letter-or-number character, and a minimum of eight characters, you freaking idiot with your liberal arts degree. You know how expendable you'll be in a post-apocalyptic society?"

9.      Hackers begin hacking systems with their eyes closed. You know, to make it a little more challenging. 

10.     IT professionals begin requiring users to rotate passwords on a regular basis. And by "regular," they mean "hourly."

11.     Hackers briefly wonder what they would have become had they been born 100 years ago. Consensus? Safecrackers. 

12.     IT professionals ban use of recently used passwords. And by "recently used,” they mean "ever used."

13.     IT professionals ban use of passwords that users have thought about using but haven't actually used because you can never be too safe.

14.     IT professionals and hackers attend annual convention, eye each other warily until open-bar mixer at local Applebee's. 

15.     IT professionals mandate that passwords cannot include any English letters or any numerals between 0 and 9. 

16.     Users run out of easy-to-remember yet complex passwords that haven't been recently used. 

17.     Users begin forgetting passwords en masse.

18.     Users begin writing passwords down on Post-It notes and posting them to their computers.  

19.     Nighttime cleaning crews throw away millions of passwords. 

20.     Society grinds to a halt, breaks down, collapses. 

21.     Liberal arts majors look nervously at each other, scamper for the hills. Slower ones caught, roasted, good with ketchup. 

22.     Democrats, Republicans point fingers at each other.


  1. This is SO funny! I would have put the Post-It notes earlier in the diaspora, but it's perfect as is.

  2. thanks Natasha! glad you liked it.

  3. LOL, David! This is great! I'm sending the link to my hubby's email. He's a computer guru and will get a real kick out of this. Oh, and I'll have to try me one of those roasted liberal arts majors ... I hear they taste just like chicken.

  4. Anita, thanks! I tell ya, my little heart sinks when my one system or another I use announces "Your password will expire in 3 days". I swear it happens like once a week.

  5. Yes, I agree with Natasha. I have a wad of 10-year-old post-it notes stuffed in a desk drawer with every password I've ever had ever. There are about 210 of them. Even the word "password" overwhelms me now.

  6. Hello, fellow mad hatter--glad to meet and follow you through the marvelous Anita.
    Great post! I once had to come up with a password for an invoicing system called Catalyst, which is the most horrible system invented by humankind. It rejected 23 passwords before it accepted the one I finally landed on. Then I promptly forgot it. I'll never get back in.

  7. Jenny: welcome! I'm almost afraid to try and sign in every day to my work computer and its fourteen different password protected databases.