You know what would make a good password? “Security breach.” Because that way if you get hacked, you would at least have that delightful irony to cheer you up in your time of panic.
I’m all about best practices when it comes to my own password: at least seven characters including a capital letter and a numeral. The fact that I use this same password virtually every time for every new account I create is about as bad a practice as can be, almost as bad as the fact that I list this and my handful of other passwords in a single Word document called “Web Passwords.” So if you know which of my dead pets I’ve based this password on, you can essentially access my life. The fact that I have many, many dead pets is too bad for you, not to mention for my highly traumatized children.
This is a lazy, lazy practice but I suspect I’m not alone. Who can possibly remember a separate password for all those accounts: laptop, phone, email, social media, banking, Netflix, government, Cheese-of-the-Month Club, international drug cartel, the list goes on and on.
And yet, even in the wake of the recent Heartbleed scare, I’m not especially worried. Why? Because there are billions of Internet users with dozens of accounts each, so the chances of getting breached are about the same as owning a cat named PHluffy9378, and I may have just said too much.
Plus, Heartbleed has shown us two things: One, that the names of bugs, viruses and Trojans could easily serve as the names of death metal bands: Heartbleed! Doomjuice! Creeper! I suspect as much thought goes into naming these bugs as the programming itself. For future consideration, might I suggest something really terrifying like Puppy Mill Fan Club! or Rob Ford Country Album! “VapoRub” has a nice cyber-ring to it.
The second thing that Heartbleed has shown is that, no matter what security precautions you take, the hackers will find a way. These latest attacks resulted in major security breaches, for instance, at email providers like Yahoo mail and Gmail. Incidentally, AOL was not affected, so all six of you can breathe easy.
But dozens of other companies from Amazon to Dropbox were also affected. And the recommendation after all of this? You should change your password. This is like discovering your umbrella has holes in it and then being told you should replace it with another umbrella with different holes in it.
They say we’re fast approaching the day when accounts will be accessed by retinal scans, but I think we’ve all seen enough James Bond movies to know that this is just one forcefully extracted eyeball away from disaster.
Internet insecurity is the modern-day boogeyman, and every time there’s a security breach like Heartbleed, we freak out that our private information is suddenly vulnerable and exposed. One of the companies affected last week was OK Cupid, the online dating site. So, the vulnerable information would be… that you like taking long walks on the beach and that sideburns make you feel “oogy”?
We fret about having our privacy taken away from us but we do a pretty good job of giving it away voluntarily. Imagine a program that exposes all your personal information, everything you do or have done for the past five years, all your secret-most thoughts and opinions, your photos, your address and phone number. Oh wait: it’s called Facebook.
So that’s why I’m not too worried about my lame password. There’s not really much left to hide. So, hackers, have fun looking at my topless vacation photos (me topless). And if you do access my credit card info, enjoy that single tank of gas, because that’s about all it can handle before it bursts into flames.
A version of this post originally appeared on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway.”