Password overload: In search of the universal password

After signing up for an account on github yesterday, I was forced to log yet another password ( that’s YAPW for you Open Source geeks ). The list looked a little on the long side so I decided to do a word count on it. 71 passwords.

Managing passwords is inherently frustrating because the rules are different from site to site. My own password evolution has not gone the way I had planned. I started out with a simple 7 letter lower-case alpha-numeric sequence that was easy for me to remember.

Soon after, I started having regrets as I ran into sites that had a minimum requirement of 8 characters. Okay, I’ll add an extra number, that’s how I’ll deal with that one. Then sites started requiring 8 characters and at least one alpha character must be capitalized. Arggghh! Now I have 3 incantations of my password to remember so I need to start writing them down. Maybe I’ll just invent a new universal password that will work in all of these situations. That’s it!

I’ll invent an 8 character, alpha-numeric password with at least one upper-case character. Then I won’t have to look these up so often. I just have to remember to not invent one that causes me to switch back and forth between screens on my smart-phone 5 times to get it typed in, so it’s better if we don’t put numbers and characters next to each other very often.

But wait, there’s more! Now some sites want min 8 characters, alphanumeric with at least one Capitalized AND at least one special character! Crap! Now I have to re-invent my universal password again! But here it is, the universal password of my dreams. Aqa,1234. It has everything a site could require, right?

Turns out that’s not the case. Some sites prohibit special characters. Crap! Now I have to create a 9 character alpha-numeric password with at least one letter in caps and put the special character on the end.

Whew! I’m all set. I’m not looking forward to going back and retro-fitting all of my previous accounts though, with my new universal password strategy.

Hold on a second, I’ve got mail. Crap, my password expires in 4 days and 4 of the sites and I cannot re-use any of my old passwords. I’m giving up on the notion of a Universal Password.

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