Monday 9 April 2012

The cutting edge of white heat, blue sky durch Technik

Now, when it comes to computers and suchlike I’m no expert, yet I ain’t no slouch either, but have you ever noticed how all this progress is weighing us down? Yesterday, for example, I spent pretty much the whole day transferring files and programmes from one computer to another. Yes, yes, I know, local storage is so ‘noughties’, dude. Like, get with the cloud, man. Put your life on the cloud and you can access it from anywhere via any platform.

Yes and so can anybody else, or – more likely – you’ll have no access when you actually need it. And besides, if a workaday hacker can get at your cloudy inner secrets, so could the government, which is a sobering thought. Whoa there boy, back up a bit. “What are you hiding?” you’re all thinking now. (See? That’s what the government wants you to think!)

Nothing! Nothing, but… it’s a bit like writing down everything about your life in a diary and handing it to a ‘homeless’ for safekeeping. He might try to sell your secrets or your identity. Or he might just browse through it. No problem, you’ve got security on it, right? Or he might just lose it. Or. More likely you’ll never find that tramp again.

Am I likening the government to a tramp? Yes, I believe I am. A dirty, smelly vagrant, whose very existence repulses you, yet you can’t let out of your sight because otherwise he’ll be into your pockets for your keys. Then he and his mates will steal your car and squat in your property before you can say George Osborne. The point is, you can’t just tell the world everything about yourself and not expect consequences. You need a bit of security.

So, passwords. You’re not supposed to use a memorable password – you know, anything you might actually remember? Nor should you write it down, or use it for more than one site… and then you should change it every few weeks. But, it’s not like you need many passwords, is it? After your online banking, there’s not much to worry about is there? Okay, so you might have more than one bank account and maybe a share account, an ISA, or SIPP.

And maybe you have online accounts for gas, electric, water, council tax. Oh yes, there’s also Google, Amazon, eBay, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook… and your multiple email accounts, or instant messaging… and Skype, of course. Still, that’s not too many to remember, is it? Ah but, what about every online merchant you’ve ever bought from? They all want you to register your fake email address so they can bombard you with spam, don’t they?

Right then, multiple log-ins, each with a different password – not written down – that you change every few weeks. Quite a task, but I have a great system. All my dozens of passwords are generated for me by a script I wrote to spew out randomised strong combinations at irregular intervals for each and every account. Now all I have to do is call up that program every time I need to log in and it does it for me!

It’s so secure even I don’t know the log-in details. You could waterboard me for hours and I could never tell. The only thing I’ll ever need is the password to access my programme. Now, if I ever forgot that, boy I’d be in real trouble… which is why I’ve written it down on a Post-it note and stuck it to my screen.

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