Passwords: Use letters, numerals, all those crazy things like asterisk, ampersand and hashtags Image Credit: Gulf News

My wife sent me an email, “Microsoft announces a password-less future”, it said and I jumped with joy as I hate making up passwords, and immediately losing them.

“Have you forgotten your password again, haha, click on ‘Forgotten Password’ “, the bank account tells me, as if I was a village idiot.

Just the other day I had told my wife, “Please change your bank account password, hackers are become smarter”, when a Nigerian princess sent me an email saying she wanted to give me her inheritance, and to send her my bank account number.

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My wife quickly changed the v to a 9 in her mother’s name, which is her password to a bank account.

My wife is from south India and her mother’s first name and surname all total 19 letters and go on to the next page, still nobody, really, nobody uses their mother’s name as a password, as that will be the first thing the hackers will check out.

Many times, banks themselves lead the crooks to your mother’s name. “We have this set of personal questions that will safeguard your account and that you will need to answer when you click in, ” says the Bank’s website.

“You can choose whether you want your mother’s name, your favourite city, name of your best friend or your favourite book.”

The hackers immediately get a foot in the door, so to speak, when you give the answer to the question, “Mother’s Name” as: Asiya Adina Abigail Mama”.

Or to the question, “favourite book” as: “Half girlfriend” (by Chetan Bhagat), which I have downloaded on my Kindle and have promised myself to read some day.

Your dog’s name as password

An IT expert friend, who was horrified by our silliness, said: “You do not use your dog’s name as a password, or your home address, your old PO Box number or your phone number,” he said, staring with disbelief at me. “Nothing that is connected to you.”

My wife has a well-thumbed pocket book that is kept on her work desk at home for me to access easily. It even has the password of the Wi-Fi connection, for giving our friend’s daughter every time she asks if we have an Internet connection.

My wife has written all the passwords in three separate pocket books for me and our kids, but instead of handing them to us, she has kept them hidden in her steel wardrobe, that she inherited from her mother, as she does not trust us.

The passwords are for our bank accounts, the credit cards, the debit cards, life insurance, our children’s bank accounts, their credit cards, debit cards, the passwords to the share market demat account, the tax accounts in India and Canada, the numbers to the bank’s safes, and the safe where our degrees are kept, the car insurance, and so on.

The password makers say use letters, numerals, all those crazy things like asterisk, ampersand, hashtag etc., so as to fool the hackers, and every six months or so the passwords get expired and you have to go through the whole exercise again.

On one very stressful day, I forgot the password to open my smart phone while standing right in front of my bank. I needed to withdraw money immediately, and the phone had the ATM pin number hidden in a folder called, very wisely, “Passwords’.

The silly phone would not recognise my thumb print, as I had cut the thumb with my favourite and very sharp fruit knife, while slicing a particularly hard guava. And, now I could not remember the password to access my phone.

I urgently sent a message to my wife through our driver’s phone but she said she was in class, and to borrow the money from the driver and she would repay him.

“Umesh, can I borrow Rupees 1000 from you,” I asked him sheepishly. “Sure,” he said, and bent over his phone for some time and then said he sent me the money to my phone by Google Pay.

“No, no, my phone is locked, I forgot my password,” I said in dismay, and he thought that was very funny.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi