She Was A Proud 5zNdkU Until She Got Married

, , , , | Working | October 4, 2019

(When creating online accounts, I usually fill the “Recovery Questions” with another random password and store both in my password safe. I do the same for a password for an online shopping service. Cue the following call:)

Caller: “I’m calling on behalf of [Shop] and wanted to clear a problem with your password recovery answer.”

Me: “Yes?”

Caller: “It seems you entered some random characters as the answer to, ‘What is your mother’s maiden name?’. You’re not supposed to put your password there, but answer the question.”

(I go into explanation mode on how password recovery features are insecure.)

Caller: “Still, you need to put a correct answer there; if you lose your password how do you plan to recover it?”

Me: “I have the password stored in my password safe.”

Caller: “You might lose it.”

Me: “It’s stored on a RAID 6 guarded by a three-generation backup off-site.”

Caller: *pause* “It’s still not something you’d remember.”

Me: *getting fed up* “So what? It’s stored on—”

Caller: *interrupting* “But it may get lost; it always happens and then you have no way to recover your account. We take this very seriously and—”

Me: *also interrupting* “Okay, I will remember this!”

Caller: “You want to tell me you would remember… 5zNdkU1Pr9kN—”

Me: *interrupting and reading the rest of the answer I stored* “Of course I will. That’s my mother’s maiden name.”

Caller: “…”

Me: “My mother was an alien from Tau Ceti Five and 5zNdkU… is a perfectly normal and actually even fairly common name there!”

Caller: “…”

Me: “Are you saying my mom was not a decent person just because she doesn’t have a German name like Huber or Maier? Are we at that point already again?”

Caller: “N… no, of course not, but…”

Me: “Because I didn’t expect [Company] to be in any way xenophobic.”

Caller: “Of… of course we are not, but…”

Me: “Great. So, I guess you have no further inquiries about my mother’s maiden name?”

Caller: “Er… have a nice day.”

Me: “Same to you.”

(I don’t know whether she thought I was nuts, and I’m usually not the one to play the xenophobia card, but seriously, what trouble do you put people through for an online shopping account?)

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