Tech Talk #54 – June 24, 2017


Passwords and security questions


Again with the passwords? Yes, because passwords are important and how we reset passwords has changed.


In the old days (a couple of years ago), if you forgot your password for your email or social media account, you could prove you were you by answering some security questions. Then you could reset your password.


But there were problems with that method; 1) many people didn’t remember the answers to their security questions (who was my second-grade teacher?) and 2) some of the information was easily looked up by people that weren’t you but maybe wanted to be.


Now, sites will either send you a text with a code, email you a code, or email you a link to reset your password. But it doesn’t do you any good if the site sends a password reset code or a link to the same email address you’re trying to reset the password for.


That’s why now websites want to know your cell phone number and a recovery email address.


Sending you a text with a reset code is a great way to reset passwords. It ‘proves’ you’re you because you have your phone and it’s fast. Some sites call the number on file and ‘read’ you the code if you gave them a landline instead of a cellphone number.


Sending an email with a code or a link to an alternate email address, also ‘proves’ you’re you because you can access the other email address.


But what if you don’t have a cell phone, landline, or more than one email address? Or what if you’ve changed your phone number or don’t remember the password to your other email address?


Then you’re stuck with remembering the answers to your security questions. (Where did I meet my spouse? What was the first beach I went to? Do they want my first full-time job or my first part-time job?) Maybe you set up the account so long ago you have no idea what the answers are.


If all else fails, look around on the site for a support chat feature or a phone number.


NOTE: Google (Gmail) and Microsoft (Hotmail, Outlook) are notoriously hard to reset passwords with if you don’t have up-to-date recovery information. There’s no phone number to call, and they don’t have support chat. Always make sure your recovery information is current for both Google and Microsoft.



Password managers

Of course, if you were using a password manager you wouldn’t have a chance to forget your passwords. I recommend using either the LastPass or Dashlane password managers. Both offer free and paid versions, both have extensions that will auto-login to site for you, and both will create secure passwords for you.


If (when) you get a new computer, password managers make entering your email, shopping, social media, and banking passwords easy.


Highly recommended.



Password humor

Seen on a refrigerator:

For today’s WiFi password:

  1. Empty the dishwasher
  2. Fold and put away your laundry
  3. Pick up after your dog
  4. Take out the trash
  5. See Dad when he gets home



Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at                                                                                    

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