My email account got hacked yesterday. Someone got in (presumably they brute-forced the password) and attempted to send a whole bunch of spam emails. Fortunately Gmail is a pretty well-designed service and refused to send the majority of the emails, as well as making me verify my identity and change the password. (It also locked the account down for 24 hours, so I couldn’t send any emails, which was irritating but understandable.)
I’m also very fortunate (considering that one of the emails that did get out went to my grandmother) that the spam messages were links to viagra ads and not something worse. Sending my contacts spam is bad enough; exposing them to porn or goatse or viruses would have been worse.
So now I need to change my passwords. Like many people, I use the same password for most websites, and of course I don’t want them accessing this blog or twitter or amazon or anything. (Actually, my personal amazon account is essentially defunct – it’s been simpler to share an account in the last few years, so all our info is in Hero’s account.)
Anyway, I was very surprised to find myself mourning the loss of my old password. I was actually crying at one point, though whether I was crying because of the password or because of frustration with myself for being upset over a password I don’t know. But I was crying.
Admittedly I’ve used the same password for the past ten years, and it started as the code name of a secret invention I was creating in my head. (A robot, I think. I’m not sure exactly.) I was very pleased with it – easy to remember (for me), easy to type, very hard to guess. A great password.
But I’m still surprised at how much I was attached to that password. I mean, it’s just a password. Most people didn’t ever see it. But somehow it was reassuring to have that password everywhere, just like I’m ladyphlogiston just about everywhere. And I suppose it makes sense that I would be a little upset to lose it, just as I’m seriously annoyed when ladyphlogiston can’t be my username for a new account. (Usually because it’s too long – I don’t think I’ve ever had someone else take it first.)
So I’ll come up with a new password, and change my various accounts, and life will go on. And I’ll try not to attach undue importance to the new one.