Death by Password 

I am contracted to work a 37 hour week. This is fine with me. However if a time and motion study were to be commissioned of my working day I predict that roughly 35 hours of said week would be taken up with internal security procedures. The work I carry out is of a fairly sensitive nature so I understand that robust security procedures have to be in place. But really….my average working day can be summarised as follows. 

Use swipe card to gain access to lift. Use same swipe card ten seconds later to access corridor. Dig around my painfully cool man bag for five minutes to find key for cabinet where I have to store my mobile phone as they are not permitted in the main office. Upon being unable to find key, phone Fionnuala in a panic. She suggests I check my coat pockets. Check coat pockets and locate the key within two seconds. Apologise profusely to my wife and proceed to next stage.

Use swipe card to access main office. Use separate key to access filing cabinet which contains keys to my desk drawers. Open desk drawers and spend the next fifteen minutes arranging my in tray, stationary, family photos, cuddly toys etc because of recent draconian clear desk policy initiative. Have a think about it and reposition in tray (already filling up) due to feng shui issues. Look at watch. Realise that it has been thirty minutes since I entered the building. Start to panic about the amount of work I have to do.

Decide it’s all too much and go to office fridge to get a Diet Coke. Aaaaaaaand relax. Return to desk and turn on computer. Read the complete works of Shakespeare in the time it takes our antiquated IT system to load up. However, computers  have to be shut down every evening for health & safety and security reasons. Naturally. Weep silently at the injustice of it all. 

When computer eventually loads realise that I have forgotten my password which I have written down in my Filofax. Which is in my locked again filing cabinet. Relocate Filofax and enter password. Receive an on screen notification that the password needs to be changed as it is now over a month old. Am given a choice of three randomly generated passwords that I have no hope of ever memorising as we cannot be trusted to come up with our own. Which would invariably be ‘PASSWORD’ or (ingeniously) ‘PASSWORD1’.

Write down randomly generated password which I will never remember it and return Filofax to filing cabinet. It is by now nearing lunchtime. Repeat same procedure to change password to second computer database I use because of course it would be ridiculous to have them all on the one system. Eat a biscuit. Realise that I am meant to be off biscuits since I have started marathon training again. Feel bad about this. Decide to manage gnawing shame by gnawing on another biscuit. 

It is now lunchtime. Allowing me to blog about the unfairness of my current plight. Upon returning to office am informed that the IT network is down for ‘urgent refurbishment.’ Throw hands in air and have a cup of tea. And another biscuit. A chocolate one this time. Am informed that I have to attend an unscheduled briefing the following morning. On the new internal security procedures. Curse the day I was promoted to the dizzying ranks of middle management which condemns me to attendance at these meetings. 

Realise that I have to go home in an hour but have yet to do anything remotely constructive today. Make a two minute phone call to confirm I will be at the unscheduled briefing followed by fifty eight minutes repeating the above procedures. Except back to front. My OCD also dictates that when in the lift I doubt whether my filing cabinet is actually locked or not. I am 99% certain that it is but, as ever, the 1% wins out. It always does. When I go back and check the cabinet is locked. Of course it is. Get back in lift. Halfway down realise that I have forgotten my mobile phone.

I may have exaggerated my daily routine ever so slightly to make a point but we do live in an increasingly security conscious world. Whether fearing terrorist attack, cyber crime or home intruders most of us are spending an increasing proportion of our day checking and rechecking. Protect. Guard. Secure. These are the buzzwords regularly in use in our neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces. Some of it is a politically correct and risk averse world gone mad but, as the recent attacks in Manchester, London and Barcelona have demonstrated, much of it is sadly necessary. 

My question is how much attention do you direct towards the security of your heart? Others use the word soul. The relationships we keep, the people who we know deep down are not right for us yet can’t seem to say no to; the books we read, the movies we watch, the sites we access when we are online; the envy, unforgiveness and hatred that we allow to take seed within us and eat away at our morals and values.  How often do you leave the password of your heart lying around this allowing anyone or anything inside to wreak havoc?

I have left mine wide open many times and have the deep scars to prove it. If we protect our hearts and only allow the ‘good stuff’ to enter them, then it naturally follows that when we open our mouths ‘good stuff’ is more likely to flow out. How many people live in secure homes yet are irreparably damaged because they have neglected the same diligence with regards their hearts. Broken people in a broken world. An epidemic of mental health issues and a civilisation teetering on the edge of collapse. Don’t believe me. Just watch your local news channel this evening. 

You only have one heart. Guard it. You only have one life. Use it.

Proverbs 4:23 – ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’

How much of your life is dictated by security and passwords?

What mechanisms have you in place to protect your heart?

What is the most ridiculous password you have ever used?

24 thoughts on “Death by Password 

Add yours

  1. So this is what we’re paying you for! 😉

    Thanks for visiting my blog. This is a very good analogy. it’s so easy to pick up others’ wrong attitudes, and harmful impressions from what we read, etc.

    Thinking of security efforts overboard in one area and not enough in another, I have a cousin who usually checked her receipts and the change she got when she purchased something, just in case the sales clerk cheated her. She met a man in a mall in another Canadian city and found him fun to be with, so, though she barely knew him, when he asked her to go to Mexico for a month’s holiday she was all gung-ho. She knew nothing of the country and certainly not the language, so completely trusted this new friend to look after her. It did turn out okay — at least she wasn’t harmed— but still….

    As to passwords, I’ve used the named of my three cats PandaPookieAngus as one, and the name of one of my favorite (series) book characters as another.

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  2. I don’t think my passwords are ridiculous but they used to be whatever food I was craving. Now I prefer to begin my day with a quick refocusing on God or recovery so use words such as courage, victory, overcome, but with a combination of letters and numbers of course.

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  3. The answer for me: all the time. I use the same PW for a lot (A LOT) of systems that require it…. yet I always double check it… I equate it to my fear of uncertainty and being accepted. I’m scared shitless of the unknown; so what happens if I get it wrong…

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      1. I think He is. As my blog reaches 200 now, He is reminding me to focus on humility when 10 followers used to bring me to tears to have achieve that many. Keep focused on Christ, and your true goal as a writer. 🙂 You’ll find it!

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  4. Interesting.
    Glad I don’t have all the procedures your office employs.
    We too have a clear desk policy, but Head Office is 250 miles away on the other side of the E Channel.
    Desks left untidy every night.
    Security at work? Over rated?
    Security of the heart, under appreciated.
    Terror in Barcelona? Just make sure your in a tiny village in Devon with no signal or wi fi.
    Return to the real world days later, check it all out?
    Nah.
    Would it help? Not really.
    GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out.
    Surely applies to what things we “consume”, and in turn breath out.

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  5. I find the modern day’s wifi codes, password codes, sky box codes, atm passwords etc etc totally impossible to keep up with! I’m not really sure how anyone is supposed to remember them all! Passwords, key codes etc seem to have taken over a large slice of daily life!

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  6. Wouldn’t it be great if we had such a wave of great commission success that we could know that our unlocked desk drawers were safe with all the other Jesus-followers in the neighborhood? Nice post. Everyone who deals with a company with an IT department can relate.

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