BOFH plays Pass the Password

Resolution time

Episode 1

2007, what a landmark year! A time for striving onward in the pursuit of excellence and a time for putting behind us the upsets of the past year. Upsets like me getting trapped in a lift and having to spend several hours contemplating a bucket-based toilet system in full view of the CCTV camera...

...And upsets like The PFY suffering the indignity of a cavity search so aggressive it took him ten minutes to walk properly and ten pints to get the taste of rubber off the back of his tongue... My getting his luggage 'lost' in Heathrow on the return leg 'because of fog' was really just kicking the man when he was down, but experience has taught me that if you've got to kick someone that's the best time to do it...

Still, it's water under the bridge now and The PFY has agreed to bury the hatchet (Although as there's one in the building somewhere, I'm keeping my wits about me) and we've forged a truce in the spirit of the New Year. In fact, The PFY and I have made so much positive progress that we've made a New Year's resolution to even treat our callers better. And no sooner have we taken a suck on the peace pipe of double-espresso shots than one of our users calls us.

"Password problem?" I predict as The PFY reaches for the hands free button.

"No bet," The PFY replies.

“Hi there, I've just come back from holiday and I seem to have...”

“...forgotten your password over the break?” The PFY suggests helpfully.

“Yes – but only because that stupid expiry made me change it in the last week of work,” she snaps.

“No problem,” the PFY says ignoring the sarcasm. “What's your username – I'll reset your password so you can change it when you log in.”

“Can't you just set it to my normal password?”

“The one that expired?”

“Yes”

“No, sorry, it's expired. But I could reset it and you can choose a new one,” the PFY says,

“Couldn't you just unexpire my old password?” she says, firing up the old whiney interface.

“Not really. Why not choose a password that's easy to remember, like the license plate of your first car?”

“Oh I can't possibly remember that.”

“The name of your favourite beer plus your year of birth?”

“I don't drink beer.”

“Of course not. The address you lived in when you were a kid," the PFY says, with just a touch of testiness.

"We moved around a lot."

"Your first boyfriend's name," The PFY seethes, really starting to lose the plot as far as password security is concerned.

"Ted - but that's too short."

"What about setting it to the reason that he dumped you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well 'difficult' is nine letters long and..."

"Excuse me," I interject, before The PFY can suggest using the names he may have called her or concatenating the words pain-in-the-arse "Why not set your password to a person's first name and their birthday. You must know someone else's birthday?"

"I do... but wouldn't it be easier to just use my old password?"

"Easier - yes, more secure - no. And we do like to keep you people safe from internet crime," I reply, using the old faithful excuse.

"Wouldn't it be better if you made our network more secure so that it wouldn't matter if we used the same passwords?" she asks, twisting the problem around so it's our fault now...

"We could, but then the systems security would be so secure you'd spend half your time on the phone to us to give you access to it," I respond.

"Isn't that what I'm doing now anyway?" she asks.

"Perhaps I should just mention at this point that while my assistant and I appreciate that liberal use of sarcasm may have served you well in the past, it's our position that we can't compromise the security of the company systems to save you the trouble of having to remember something new."

"I..."

"And so I'm going to get my assistant to change your password to 'security' and have it expire when you login. Is there anything else we can help you with?"

"I... no."

"Excellent, you should be able to login in a couple of minutes."

>click<

"What time is it?" I ask the PFY.

"9:13am."

"So, it's just another 359 days and about 7 hours to go. No problems. We can do it."

>ring<

"Password Problem?" I predict as The PFY reaches for the hands free button.

"No bet," he says as mentally prepares himself for the IT Support version of Groundhog Day.

...

You know, I almost feel bad about offering a hundred quid to the person who can drive The PFY over the edge on the first day. But I did organise it before our truce, so technically my conscience is clear... ®

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