Passwords & PINs & Codes, Oh My!

I'm in PIN/password overload. At the dawning of the age of online services and ATMs, the basic instructions for choosing your PIN were to pick a minimum
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Passwords & PINs & Codes, Oh My!

May 1, 2005 12:00 PM, By Mark Johnson

I'm in PIN/password overload. At the dawning of the age of online services and ATMs, the basic instructions for choosing your PIN were to pick a minimum of four letters or numbers, something easy to remember. My early PIN was the spelling of a made-up six-letter “word” that I used occasionally. Because it was a “word,” I never bothered to memorize the number sequence, but was clear that a PIN could definitely be a word.

PINs are required for access to many things we use in our daily lives — ATMs, credit cards, online accounts and services, and voice mail. To keep it all straight, I try to be consistent in my PINs, lest I forget the number (or letter sequence) and be denied access.

In order to get a (free) subscription to an online version of a local newspaper, I had to set up an account and was prompted to choose a PIN to use henceforth. The requirements: no spaces and six to 12 characters, at least one of which must not be a letter. And another service required that I use a combination of letters, numbers, and at least one symbol.

Now it seems each time I set up an account for something, there is some new twist thrown into the requirement for creating a PIN. I currently have four- and six-character versions of my PIN (again letter-based), and now I have to come up with yet another version that I'm sure to forget because I won't use the service frequently enough.

So rather than develop another PIN version that I'll soon forget, I just decided to opt out of subscribing to the newspaper and get my information from another, more easily accessible source.

The point of all this is that in specifying and designing systems, we have to be careful that we don't wind up serving technology when it's supposed to be the other way around. At InfoComm 2005, the latest advancements in technology will abound, especially related to the convergence of AV and IT, but the show also features more than 200 educational sessions, allowing AV pros to develop and hone the skillsets necessary to master that technology. Now, if only InfoComm offered a class on PIN and password management…

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