Sunday 04 Dec 2016

Computer Security
Jennifer Flaten

The cursor blinks accusingly at me. So far, it has asked me three separate security questions, and I’ve failed to provide the correct answer for all three. What was supposed to be a quick peek at my credit report is instead turning out to be standoff between the computer security guard and me.

I swear the computer was tapping its foot and pointing to its watch. Time to wrap it up here, do you know your personal history or not. Oh. Oh. I know this one, but apparently not.

This is it. This is the last question it will ask before locking out of my account. Not locked out that is the digital equivalent of exile to Siberia. I don’t want my account locked. A locked account means I have to call and speak to an actual person to access my account. That simply can’t happen.

Also, locking your account, even if it is just the online bill payment for your cable, makes you feel as if the NSA is going to start listening a little harder to your phone conversations. Unfortunately, it is asking me to provide the phone number I had in 2000. Although I am sure, somewhere out there is someone using the same phone number assigned to them when they first got a telephone that is not me.

The only reason I know my current number is I am the chief paper work filler-outer and contact point for the family. I’ve enrolled three kids in eight years of school-each year requiring a brand new set of paperwork- and countless activities I can rattle off my phone number and their vital statistics in my sleep, but I often forget how old I am.

Recently, at the doctors, I had to think long and hard before filling in the ‘Age’ blank on the intake form. After a quick bit of calculation that thankfully didn’t require me to show my work I had my answer. After writing that number-really that old?-in the blank I fell into a deep depression. 

The other security questions were just as bad. One question was if I lived at such and such address in X year. How in hell would I know? With nine moves in fifteen years, the addresses tend to blend. Especially for the years when I had two toddlers and a baby during that time I was so sleep deprived I actually qualified as the walking dead.

Yes, all websites have security questions, but at least most of them let you choose your what security questions you’re asked. Who doesn’t remember their mother’s maiden name? The credit reporting agency chooses the questions for you and woe be to the petitioner who can’t remember who held his mortgage for a twenty day period, fifteen years ago.

I think it’s more than a little unfair that the places granting, or not as the case may be, you credit only have to provide your social security number. You, the owner of said credit information have to provide everything including blood type and elementary school report cards to get a hold of your information.

Of course, after conceding defeat at that website I found out I would need to visit about fifty other websites and change my passwords. Thank you Heartbleed bug. Oh yeah, by the way who names these things? Heartbleed bug makes me go ewww, yuke.

I could think of about a hundred ideas, including doing housework, things I’d rather do than spend an entire afternoon concocting unique, but not too unique passwords for all my various accounts. Yuck! Ewww.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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