In theory, passwords exist exclusively to provide security and peace of mind for private online accounts. And yet, the variety of requirements and regulations associated with passwords in this age has resulted in the erosion of this peace of mind. In fact, these restrictions can turn an otherwise reasonable person into a screaming lunatic. Worrying about hackers has become secondary to creating “acceptable” passwords and then having to remember them.
The multitude of restrictions and regulations are, quite frankly, getting out of hand. If you are anything like me, you have one password for everything, and you stick to your guns. The slight variations that result from website restrictions create frustration at every turn. Is this the password with capital letters?
Does this one have the weird squiggle at the end?
These rules have become more of a hindrance than a safeguard; they are about as useful as a drag chute in the 100 meter final. Our accounts are turning into Fort Knox, and we’re the ones locked out. Now, some password restrictions are perfectly reasonable. Please listen to your computer and don’t make your password “password.” However, others are just ridiculous.
- 1 8. Your password must be at least seven characters and no more than eight characters
- 2 7. You must change your password once every six months
- 3 6. Please create a Personal Identification Number
- 4 5. Your password must contain at least one uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number, and symbol
- 5 4. They fail to tell you this until after you try to submit your password
- 6 3. The generic and less-than-helpful “Your password is too weak.”
- 7 2. A password cannot contain words that are five characters or longer
- 8 1. Your password must contain the blood of a virgin
8. Your password must be at least seven characters and no more than eight characters
Talk about flexibility. The possibilities are no longer endless! Unless your chosen starter password hits that seven character mark, the specificity is incredibly hampering. Like that one pair of skinny jeans you never quite fit, there is a very small and finite range in which they work, and it’s nigh impossible to hit.
This password is the skinny jean of phrases: restrictive, frustrating, and lost in the bowels of your closet (or in this case, the Internet) collecting dust. And doesn’t this make it easier for hackers to guess your password? As someone who got an A in high school math, I know that there are only so many seven and eight character combinations.
Harder to create and easier to break, passwords like these are more trouble than they are worth.
7. You must change your password once every six months
There is a time and place for change, and it’s not in passwords. I would recommend skipping this website altogether and finding yourself a substitute. On the off-chance that this account is important enough for you to use on a regular basis, prepare yourself for a biannual teeth-gnashing. Double the vexation if there is an additional policy against recycling old passwords!
A website that will remain anonymous even prevents users from using any of their past eight passwords. The daunting prospect of creating eight unique, yet still memorable passwords for the same website is enough to send anybody running.
6. Please create a Personal Identification Number
Wait. What? I wasn’t aware this was a bank. Even worse, they try to trick you when you log back in because the website demands your password. They don’t remind you that they shunned tradition and requested a PIN. A frustrating 20 minutes later, following the entry of all the passwords you’ve been forced to accumulate over the years, you just might remember that your password is, in fact, a PIN.
In an equally probable alternate universe, your laptop laughs at you while you press the condescending “Forgot your password?” button in defeat, and the process starts anew.
5. Your password must contain at least one uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number, and symbol
That is a lot of things. Why are there so many things? These passwords are too busy to be effective. Even if the password you create is easy to remember, you still have to remember which of these blasted websites you used it on. You are likely to leave angry, resentful, and locked out (You’ve tried to guess this password too many times. Please try again in 59 minutes).
While using one of these suggestions per password is both reasonable and prudent, all of them at once create a hectic clutter of a phrase. And don’t even get me started on logging in on smartphones. It takes twice the time and five times the patience when symbols and capital letters are involved.
And then, even better…
4. They fail to tell you this until after you try to submit your password
Few things are more infuriating than missing instructions. If they insist on such tightened security, the least they could do would be to say it explicitly. If the system also includes the “Are you human?” test, you will probably have to retake it. Those tests can be hard, and I may or may not have failed them multiple times.
I’m pretty sure I’m human. The lack of information has pushed me to question my own humanity. Creating a password should not result in existential crises.
3. The generic and less-than-helpful “Your password is too weak.”
How is it too weak? You may never know. This message often accompanies the clearing of whatever form you were filling out. Not only do you have to add gibberish to your password, but you must also laboriously retype any parts of the form that became blank. The needless repetition of menial tasks is one of the seven (lesser-known) deadly sins.
Your best hope here is to add some odd assortment of characters you’ll probably forget in an hour. Maybe you should write it down. Oh, wait, that’s a password faux-pas. I guess it’s a catch-22.
2. A password cannot contain words that are five characters or longer
This rule doesn’t even make sense. There are over one million words in the English language, the majority of them five characters or greater. Combine one of these words with whatever else may create your personal password preference, whether it is numbers, another word, or whatever tickles your fancy, and you already have a solid password.
Despite this, the system continues to demand the diction of a preschooler in its password creation software. This is nothing but an added inconvenience for those of us whose standard password revolves around a five-character or greater word.
1. Your password must contain the blood of a virgin
Okay, I made that one up. But is it really that far-fetched? You’d be surprised by what technology can accomplish.