Death of a Password

October 03, 2007

While Sibylle and I were in Germany we made extensive use of an Internet Cafe in order to check email and upload pictures to Flickr. Every time we logged out of the machines we were both very careful to log out of any password protected sites or applications, and to close all application windows. Still, since we had no administrative rights on the machines and therefore couldn't wipe out the cache or browsing history, I was a bit nervous about having entered my passwords on a strange machine.

This afternoon my Yahoo Messenger account suddenly disconnected giving me a "you logged in elsewhere" reason as the cause. Yikes!

I immediately logged back in to Yahoo Messenger on my computer, and messaged Sibylle at home to see if my other computer had woken up. If it had, then that would be the cause of the "logged in elsewhere" message. If it hadn't then there was either a bug in Yahoo's software (not impossible) or someone in Winnenden Germany was potentially masquerading as me.

Sibylle confirmed that my laptop at home was still slumbering away. Time to change the password.

What is interesting is that this password was one that Yahoo assigned me when I first start using IM about 100 years ago. For some reason clot451coat639 was easy to remember and type. I never saw a reason to change it until today. The only password I have that's older would be the one for ICQ, which dates back to 1995 or so. Probably ought to change that one as well.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.