Backstory: The Twinkies password

The password on my computer at work expired last week. In the good old days, I could create a new one quickly. You know, four to six characters, don't use your address or your wife's maiden name. Done.

Then a couple of years ago my company required an annual, then semi-annual, password change. But even that was an easy fix - just add a digit to my standard, one-size-fits-all code. Done.

So the other day it was a little frustrating when the Tech department informed me that "further layers of security" were needed. They asked me to generate a password of at least eight characters that included three out of these four character groups:

• lowercase letters

• uppercase letters

• Arabic numerals

• symbols (excluding @, /, ., and -).

By the time I landed on the proper combination - one that I could actually remember - I was halfway to my next password renewal. So, in the interest of protecting my identity, and eliminating this twice-yearly scavenger hunt, I propose the following quantum leap in password-creation that will insure security for at least five years.

Every password must be at least 20 characters long and include characters from the same alphanumeric buffet as before. But now it must also include four of the following five categories:

• One ingredient found in Twinkies

• One of the seven dwarfs

• One of the four major food groups

• A constellation or planet (your choice)

• A two-letter symbol from the Periodic Table (unless it's already been used as an ingredient found in Twinkies)

So I came up with: Polysorbate60sneezy-%$poultry9*capricorn. Waddaya think?

I know it's a little more complex, but the benefits are obvious: It's creative, the time spent on it, amortized over five years, saves over the present semi-annual ordeal. And no one could possibly figure it out, even if their wife's maiden name happens to be Sneezy.

Norm Bleichman works in media relations in Boston.

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