Susan Morrison: My passwords must be secure because I can’t remember them

No hacker's getting his hands on Susan's Facebook account. Picture: Getty Images
No hacker's getting his hands on Susan's Facebook account. Picture: Getty Images
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Everything on the new shiny computer must be set up, installed and initialised. This means that virtually everything I do is asking for a password. I can’t remember the passwords.

When it comes to creating passwords, I’m running out of patience and options. Just how many times can you moosh together words and numbers to create a memorable password that can’t be guessed, and you can remember even though it doesn’t mean anything, because some hacker, probably under the direct command of Vladimir Putin, might just want to muck up my Facebook page?

The very first time I was asked to create a password, it was on a monitor made of weirdly mushroom coloured plastic. It was a great curvy beast . The huge bulging screen had green writing on it. It looked like a giant toad sitting on my desk.

It only did one job and that was to tell me how many telephones you had in your office. The woman taking us through the training said, as she exhaled her fag (yes, children, smoking indoors was not just permitted, it seemed it was compulsory) that these computer things were all very well, but they wouldn’t take the place of the paper order system.

Believe me, this big telecoms company, which had once been a branch of the civil service, ran on a a truly Byzantine system that required eight differently coloured copies of everything signed in exactly the right place. How, she breathed like Smaug the dragon, would the engineers know where to go without the pink D01356, as well as the yellow single copy GR2201 and the blue RR332/33?

You’re not telling me, she continued through another smokey blue exhalation, that these computer things will ever get carried about like bits of paper. She took early redundancy, as I recall.

That password was a doddle for me. I just took one of my favourite films and the year it was made. Obviously, I can’t tell you but if I say it was a black and white film and it involved Kenneth More and the RMS Titanic, you might get a clue.

I remember (that’s a clue as well) congrat
ulating myself on how clever I’d been and how I’d made up a password like a whizzy little thing that’s a super switched-on denizen of the digital world.

There, I thought, that’s my password, like I would never have to bother my little head about it again.

How little did I know that the entire world in years to come was going to be a minefield of upper case letters, digits and symbols.

Security to swear by

You’re not supposed to write them down. You can’t use one you’ve used before. You can’t use swear words. I know about that last one, because I blew a gasket at the banking system and, ok, pushed the line on the profanity front and my dear old Scottish bank reared up like an outraged spinster aunt confronted with an episode of the Benny Hill show and gave me the digital equivalent of a right old ticking off.

Oh, and she can spot it even if you fiddle about with the spelling. Turns out she knows you can spell certain F words with PH.

The eyes have it

Retina scanning will take be the next thing. Some websites do it all ready. This worries me. You see, it is not unknown for me to indulge in a little late-night retail therapy, especially after a wee night out with the gals.

Imagine the rage I’ll get into when I get constantly blocked because the website can’t scan my blood-shot, gin-drenched retinas.

Mind you, drunk shopping is dangerous. Remember QVC? Ah, the days of the late-night infomercial that convinced me that I couldn’t live without a five-piece Sunshimmer Set and Facial Blending Brush.

Fortunately on a least one occasion I was too awash on a sea of cava to be able to read my bank card, so that saved me from the Tiki Garden Set, which was an outdoor dining table and twelve matching chairs, featuring the unique bamboo Shady Palm umbrella with patented “Twinkle Light” Technology.

Since we lived in a one-bedroom, third-floor flat at the time, this would have been a problem.

Oh, hold it, starting to see the advantage of retina scanning pre-late night online shopping. It’s like a breathalyzer for the eyes.

My bank balance thanks you, or rather, my easily shocked Scottish bank thanks you.

Another man of colour

How remarkably tolerant our American cousins are! Such trailblazers in diversity and equality. Not even I, the Pollyanna of politics, expected them to be so relaxed now about matters racial that they would elect another man of colour into the White House so soon. Of course, this time the colour is orange, which, it would appear, is the new black.