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Passwords and security questions

Tech Talk

 

June 20, 2020

Greg Cunningham

In the old days (a couple of years ago), if you forgot your password for your email or social media account, you could prove you were you by answering some security questions. Then you could reset your password.

But there were problems with that method: 1) many people didn't remember the answers to their security questions (who was my second-grade teacher?), and 2) some of the information was easily looked up by people that weren't you but maybe wanted to be.

Today, sites prefer to send you a text with a password reset code, email you the code, or email you a link to reset your password. But it doesn't do you any good if the site sends the password reset code or link to the same email address you're trying to reset the password for.

Which is why websites want to know your cell phone number and a recovery email address.

Sending you a text with a reset code is a great way to reset passwords. It proves you're you because you have your phone and it's fast. Some sites can call the number on file and read you the code if you gave them a landline instead of a cellphone number.

Sending an email with a code or a link to an alternate email address, also proves you're you because you can access the other email address.

But what if you don't have a cell phone, landline or more than one email address? Or what if you've changed your phone number or don't remember the password to your other email address?

Then you're stuck with remembering the answers to your security questions. (Where did I meet my spouse? What was the first beach I went to? Do they want my first full-time job or my first part-time job?) Maybe you set up the account so long ago you have no idea what the answers are.

If all else fails, look around on the site for a support chat feature or a phone number.

NOTE: Google (Gmail) and Microsoft (Hotmail, Outlook) are notoriously hard to reset passwords with if you don't have up-to-date recovery information. There's no phone number to call, and they don't have support chat. Always make sure your recovery information is current for both Google and Microsoft. Oh, and if you're not using AT&T for your internet anymore but are still using that AT&T or SBCGLOBAL email address, the only way to reset your password is to answer your security questions. In some cases (very old accounts) they may not even have security questions for you to answer so they can't help you.

Welsh password generator

If you're having trouble coming up with a new login password, a Twitter user named @PrincenAlice created a password generator that combines three random Welsh words with a symbol. Please don't use it for a real password, though. Just because we can't pronounce a password doesn't mean a computer can't guess it. At least, eventually. Here's the link: http://www.welshpassword.wheresalice.info.

Office sounds

Now that you're working from home, do you secretly miss the sounds of working in an office? The rhythm of the office copier, the gurgling of the coffee machine, someone eating in their office, or the murmur of people working together, in one place?

Of course, you do. That's why the folks over at Kids, a Swiss and German creative agency, created an office sounds simulator. Click on things to turn them on and add people to your office in the lower right. Here's the link: http://www.imisstheoffice.eu.

Missing Kmart?

Especially the music they played in the store in the 80s and 90s? Well, Mark Davis has you covered. He worked at Kmart during that time and pulled all the old cassettes and reels to reels of the background music out of the trash and saved them. For some reason. Here's his collection, over on the Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/details/attentionkmartshoppers.

Just once

I want a username and password prompt to reply with "Close enough. You may enter."

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at [email protected]

 
 

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