Your password has been hacked

You may have read about the LinkedIn security breach, where thousands of passwords were hacked and published. When I got an email from LinkedIn, telling me that my password was on the list of passwords that had been hacked, I felt kind of special. “Ooh…someone thinks I’m important enough to hack!” My first hack attack (that I know about).

Naturally, I changed my password straight away, to something MUCH trickier, in fact so tricky that I now have no hope of remembering it unless I write it down somewhere. Sigh. I shall add it to the list of passwords I can’t possibly remember. I counted my password list…155!! That’s right, 155 of the damn things. So many passwords, so little time.

This is because, as we all know, pretty much every time you do anything on line, (and I do quite a lot) you have to register first, which means making a user name and, you guessed it, a password. I undertand that sites with money transactions need to be secure, no problem there. But do I really need a password for the Clinique Club? My Epson printer help centre? TomTom updates?

Of course I don’t, but once they get you to register then they have your email address and all sorts of other handy marketing information with which to bombard you later. The ploy of giving them an email address that isn’t your main one sort of works, but I find I still need to check the emails, just in case there’s something really important in there, like an email telling me I’ve been hacked.

The other thing about hacking the LinkedIn passwords was that people were asking why? On the face of it, there wasn’t much point as LinkedIn is a site where you tell the world all about yourself (your professional self, that is), in the hope that you’ll be head-hunted for a sensational next job. So if you’ve already put yourself out there, what more can a hacker do? As it turns out, the passwords provide a useful guide for the nasty little hackers into the way you think about passwords, making any other passwords about you easier to crack.

Having 155 passwords to remember, or more often to forget, you might think that I would be in favour of the not-far-into-the-future futuristic idea of having a microprocessor implanted under my skin which automatically recalls all the relevant secret data about myself when needed.

But no. If history teaches us anything, it is that whatever one person invents for honourable purposes, some other greedy bugger will pervert for personal gain. Until human nature evolves enough to be totally altruistic, I shall keep my secret passwords on a secret list in a secret place. If only I could remember where I put it…

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